Twenty-nine young recruits are starting promising new careers as UK Power Networks’ apprentices.
There were 749 applications for 29 jobs on the latest round of the training scheme which addresses the skills gap in the electricity industry while generating valuable employment for school leavers.
The trainees will spend the next three years learning a trade in electricity distribution. They specialise in overhead power lines (linesmen), underground cables (jointers) or electricity substations (fitters), gaining practical on-the-job training and nationally-recognised qualifications. By 2017 the trainees will be qualified in key roles which make sure the lights stay on across London, the South East and East Anglia.
Patrick Clarke, director of network operations at UK Power Networks, began his own career as an apprentice. He said: “Our apprenticeship programmes are top class, developing the next generation of experts to run our electricity networks. There couldn’t be a more exciting time to join the electricity industry, with new technology bringing faster changes in the next 10 years than ever before.
“We look for people with a great attitude, keen to serve their communities and critically safety conscious, which is the baseline for the electricity industry. The average age profile of our workforce is now 50 plus so this is an excellent time for young people with new ideas to make their mark. We are one of the few long-term industries where, if you perform well, your future is secure. If you’ve got talent and you are prepared to work hard, you could have a really promising future with us.”
Jack Rees, 17, from Croydon, has competed at a national level in gymnastics and came third last year in the national tumbling finals. He’s excited about his new challenge training as an electrical fitter in Croydon. He said: “This is a positive way to start my career because it’s a good company. They have taught us lots already and they look after us. It looks like this will be a long-term career and my first few days have gone quickly. It’s an exciting time and when I get home at the weekends I just want to come back to work!”
George Harris, 17, from Charing, Kent, is preparing to work on overhead power lines as a linesman based in Canterbury. He said: “I don’t mind heights and really enjoyed going up the poles during the assessment process. I like hands-on work and, once you are in a company like this, there are lots of opportunities to progress. It’s a great opportunity for a young person and it’s good to have a trade.”
The company is currently training about 80 apprentices a year. It plans to hire and train more than 1,000 new staff by 2023 to make sure there are sufficient craftsmen to maintain, upgrade and repair the electricity networks as key staff retire. Hundreds of apprentices have been through the company’s structured programme of training and now look after the power network in their communities.
The scheme includes formal training at UK Power Networks’ training centres in Kent and Suffolk and on-the-job experience putting their skills into practice. At the end of their programme, the apprentices will gain a Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) Diploma in electrical power engineering.
The apprentices shadow experienced staff, participate in a 24-hour standby rota and have a gradual introduction to field work. After they qualify, they can complete more advanced qualifications and can apply for the company’s supported studies programme to advance their careers. Many former apprentices have progressed to become senior managers within the company.
UK Power Networks offers foundation apprenticeships for school leavers, which are three years, plus advanced apprenticeships, which are two years. To find out more about becoming an apprentice visit: