How apprenticeships are changing our future for the better

Young people in car with windfarm in distance - E.ON
Posted 08/03/2018 by Chris Norbury, HR Director - E.ON UK

The future of energy looks very different. We want to be at the forefront - working with our customers and communities to make it simpler, smarter and more sustainable.

We’re committed to creating a better tomorrow for everyone by developing and delivering new solutions, products and services built around differing needs. So, we’re helping our customers save energy and money, and find the solutions that are right for them. 

Our three focuses reflect the major changes happening in energy today:

1. Increasing demand for innovative energy solutions.

2. The growth of renewables as part of the effort to tackle climate change.

3.  The transformation to smarter energy.

But there’s a big challenge

To do this we need to create a workforce that has the skills and talent to develop and deliver new solutions for the future. Though we’re not alone.

In the UK, we urgently need more skilled professionals. According to non-for-profit organisation Engineering UK, British companies are short of some 20,000 engineers and technicians every year and the country will need 1.8 million more by 2025.

In the energy and utility sector alone we will need to recruit 221,000 skilled professionals over the next 10 years to maintain the UK’s infrastructure.

So, what are we doing about it?

We see apprenticeships playing a key part in helping us realise our vision.

They offer a huge amount of value. Apprentices bring new ideas, passion, enthusiasm and loyalty to our business. In return we encourage them to be the best they can be, and provide opportunities to achieve degree and post graduate level qualifications.

Over the last three years, we’ve delivered over 250 apprenticeships. The majority who complete their apprenticeship have gone on to secure a full-time job with us too, with a quarter staying in learning and completing higher apprenticeships. 

We’re warming young people up to the idea too.

Working with schools and colleges, we’ve been delivering programmes to engage young people to get them excited about STEM subjects. We hope to help young people understand the job opportunities in our sector and help remove the stigma of apprenticeships.

It’s making a difference. Last year, we made it to fourteenth in The Job Crowd’s Top 50 Apprentice Employers.

Zoe Finch - Apprentice - E.ON

It means a fresh start

Apprenticeships are giving people a chance to take different career path. Zoe Finch, 27, from Basildon, became the first ever female engineering apprentice to achieve the Level 2 Dual Fuel Smart Meter Installer Apprenticeship Standard in England. Having previously ran a catering van, she wanted to try her hand at something new:

“All of what I’ve learnt and experienced will definitely prove valuable in the future. I’m always looking to better the skills I already have and to learn and experience new things, so my future at E.ON could hold many possibilities. I’d like to be a tech specialist once I’ve gained enough experience and become the best at what I do.”

Nathan Davies, originally from Walsall, was looking to improve his career prospects when his partner was pregnant with their first child. Last year, he was awarded Highways Electrical Association (HES) National Apprentice of the Year 2017.

“I’ve gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience and through my hard work I’ve been able to become a Street Lighting Jointer one year earlier than planned.”

There’s a new opportunity

We see things differently. Apprenticeship reforms have given us an opportunity to revisit our skills strategy and think about the way we nurture skills and talent.

So we offer opportunities across a wide range of skills and disciplines, ranging from the more traditional engineering apprenticeships such as Highways, Lighting and Wind Farm Technicians, to office based apprenticeship roles, like customer services and cyber security.

The energy industry won’t stop evolving. But, we’ll play our part in making sure there’s a skilled workforce to deal with the challenges the future will bring. 

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