Ten engineers are celebrating in the run-up to National Apprenticeship Week (February 6-12) and they are still friends after finding what turned out to be ‘a’ job for life’ back in 1998.
This year is the 25th anniversary of apprenticeships being re-established across the South East, following privatisation of the electricity industry. From the first intake in 1998, ten of the 12 fresh-faced recruits went on to build successful long-lasting careers with UK Power Networks’ predecessor companies- and they are still loving their jobs today!
Joe Webb a field engineer in Croydon said:
“Our 1998 year has been a real success. Between us we have an area manager, lead field engineers, field engineers, control engineer and a hot glove linesman. The ten of us who finished the apprenticeship have remained good friends. When I finished school at 16, I was looking for an apprenticeship and was very excited to apply, as it was a job working outside. I was lucky enough to get through hundreds of applicants and was offered a place as a modern apprentice in 1998. I qualified as a linesman and have since gone on to become a hot glove linesman and have recently started a new chapter in my career as a connections field engineer moving to the Kingston and Croydon area.”
Gary Beeden, a lead field engineer in the Canterbury and Maidstone areas, said:
“My dad had already worked here for 32 years when I joined the business. He retired in 2013 after 47 years, so the electricity industry was all I ever knew. I finished A-Levels at school and didn’t know what I wanted to do when an advert came up for an apprenticeship scheme. I applied and the rest is history! Our apprenticeships are a great route to a good career. It’s a way to study and earn money at the same time, without the financial burden and leads to a good job. My last qualification was a diploma in the company’s Leadership Academy last year, so the learning never stops. When customers have a power cut we find the way to get them back on, as safely and quickly as possible. There’s a lot of job satisfaction in that role, particularly when elderly or vulnerable customers are affected.”
Paul Pritchard, a linesman in East Kent said:
“I had two other apprenticeships on offer but chose this one as it was working outdoors and the work seemed the best and I have never regretted it. As a linesman the work hasn’t changed much but the safety side has – when working up poles we have to be attached at all times now, which wasn’t the case when we started.”
Phil Burke, a lead field engineer in the Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells areas said:
“I started my apprenticeship in 1998 as a multi-skilled apprentice and progressed to being a ‘hot glove’ linesperson working on live 11,000-volt overhead lines and I was the youngest hot glove linesperson in the country when I started that job. The apprenticeship gives those with hand and craft skills the opportunity to progress, learn and get involved in maintaining the electricity networks. For the first apprenticeship intake there were about 500 applications, so it was a good feeling to get the job. I hoped at the time that it would be a career for life.”
Jason Purle, a field engineer in the Croydon area said:
“I was 18 when I started and had just finished sixth form, I had no interest in university and wanted to get stuck into some kind of work. The apprenticeship was amazing and I made lifelong friends and learned some specialist skills along the way. I am now about to start a fresh chapter in my career as a high voltage control engineer. Your career path is only limited by your own ambition.”
From the Purpose Business Coalition, former Apprentices Minister Rt Hon Anne Milton said:
“This year’s National Apprenticeship Week gives us the chance to celebrate the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
“For employees – whether they are school leavers, graduates or those seeking a job change at other stages in their lives – there is a clear pathway to acquiring the skills and knowledge they need for rewarding careers, regardless of their background and previous experience. Employers can grow their own talent pool by developing a motivated and skilled workforce. That adds value to their business, and an organisation which offers a range of routes in also improves its diversity. The country benefits from opening up opportunity to everyone and to having people with the skills and expertise it needs to meet the challenges of the twenty first century.
“The theme of 2023’s National Apprenticeship Week is Skills for Life and it’s clear from UK Power Networks’ experience that the opportunity to participate in its amazing apprenticeship programme has been life changing and long lasting. As a leading member of the Purpose Coalition they are testimony to the rewards an organisation can reap from the investment it makes in its employees.”
Exciting new opportunities are also opening up through UK Power Networks’ new Digital Academy which has up to 400 places available over five years, on 20 new apprenticeship courses focused on digital and technology skills.
To apply for the Experienced Apprentice Programme in the South East see 2023 Experienced Apprentice Programme – South East Region September Intake (ukpowernetworks.co.uk)
Powering apprenticeships and friendships was published on FE News by FE News Editor