Career changers switch on to power apprenticeships
Three career changers have joined UK Power Networks Services, to build new careers on the power network.
A former zoo worker, a brewer and an electrician are the new recruits switching on to two-year experienced craft apprenticeships with the electricity infrastructure firm UK Power Networks Services, which serves industries such as aviation, rail, defence, manufacturing and government.
Over the next two years they will retrain as substation fitters and underground cable jointers, becoming experts in their field.
Foundation apprentices complete the programme in three years, while those with experience from other sectors cover exactly the same course, intensively in just two years. College courses and practical skills gained at the company’s bespoke training centres in Kent and Suffolk, are practised under close supervision on-the-job.
Former zoo worker, Samuel Newark, 20, from Carshalton, taught the public about penguins, monkeys and insects before landing an apprenticeship as a substation fitter with the commercial arm of the business, UK Power Networks Services, based at Heathrow. He said: “I worked in the zoo’s education team and if the queue was long, we’d get out a massive insect or snail and teach visitors about the creatures. It was fun and I did that for just over a year. Before that I’d worked in an engineering job but there wasn’t much of a career path.”Samuel said he was ‘over the moon’ to get the job and said he enjoyed the ‘family feeling’ from the moment he joined the apprenticeship.
Formerly part of the brewing industry, Jason Howes, 33 from Stanton, Bury St Edmunds, worked making malt for breweries, before joining UK Power Networks Services' apprenticeship, training as a substation fitter in his home town. "I was buzzing to get the job. I like a new challenge," said the former King Edward VI School pupil. As a school leaver, Jason worked in deliveries for a supermarket chain and pharmaceuticals, then germinating barley in kilns for big-name breweries which led to an interest in electricity. He said: “I had a great team around me and our electrician there showed me bits and pieces which sparked my interest in the electricity industry. I thought although I don’t know much now, this is an apprenticeship, so I can learn. It’s a new challenge and a good future.”
After calling time on a career in retail and sales, Robert Coker, 31, from Bury St Edmunds, worked as an electrician before seizing what he called an ‘amazing opportunity’ to train as a cable jointer in Bury St Edmunds for the commercial business arm, UK Power Networks Services.“I will be making sure equipment is installed, connected and maintained to keep the lights on and keep the customers happy. That’s the main goal,” said Robert.“We are all customers in one way, shape or form so it’s a personal responsibility to do your job to the best of your ability.“I’m a qualified electrician and there is a form of satisfaction when you see the smile on a customer’s face when you finish the job. I’ll feel the same pride in doing this, but this is the ‘big stuff’!”
He added: “From the moment I walked in the door it was welcoming. You don’t get that in many places. It felt like being welcomed into the team and welcomed into the family. First impressions are amazing.”
Charlie Aston, engineering trainee manager at UK Power Networks, said:
Changing career can be unnerving but for many it’s a chance to follow their dream. In a survey of career changers, carried out by Joblist, 77 per cent felt happier and 75 per cent felt more fulfilled after taking the plunge. Charlie added:
There were 907 applications for the latest 28 posts at UK Power Networks and its commercial arm UK Power Networks Services, showing strong demand for the experienced apprenticeship. Foundation apprenticeships continue to be an important part of the company’s strategy, coupled with experienced apprentices who are fast-tracked through the same programme in two years instead of three.