Energy

The essential energy and utilities sector covers the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity; the transportation, distribution and supply of gas; the collection, purification and distribution of water; waste management and the collection and treatment of sewerage; and nuclear fuel processing. The apprenticeships in this section provide entry routes into all of these areas.

Keeping gas, electricity and water supply in check isn’t easy. By nature, gas hates being in an enclosed space and is always looking for a place to escape. A gas leak could potentially cause an explosion, so anyone working with this substance needs to be highly skilled – any mistake could have serious consequences. This section also features new apprenticeships in the growing nuclear industry, which produces roughly 20 per cent of the electricity in the UK. The provision of nuclear power and the safe decommissioning (or closing down) of the UK’s older nuclear power plants both rate highly on the Government agenda. This sort of work involves skills that are transferable to other sectors within this industry, as well as skills that are specific to the nuclear industry.

As part of its energy strategy, the Government has set a target for smart meters to be installed in all 27 million homes in the UK by 2019. The apprenticeship in Smart Meter Installation (see page 123) will train a competent workforce to install these. Or take a look at the Energy Assessor and Advisor apprenticeship on page 118. Domestic energy advisors analyse the energy efficiency of buildings and suggest improvements so that homeowners can improve the energy efficiency of their property. They also advise customers on the Government’s Green Deal initiative, which helps to finance the installation of energy improvements.

The many roles in this sector require people with all sorts of skills. Practical roles like pipe fitting, line repair and cable jointing are in high demand, as are plant operatives. There’s also a large administrative and commercial side to the industry. Every household and company in the country has an electricity bill to pay – that’s a lot of customers to look after, and a lot of administrative work. All the major supply companies have large contact centres to deal with areas like customer service and sales.

At a glance

  • People with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications are in high demand from employers
  • Key challenges facing the energy sector are the need to increase productivity, meeting increased demand for energy and reducing the environmental impact of energy production
  • Opportunities are available in the following industries: electricity, gas, nuclear and water
  • Qualities
  • Be practical and good with your hands
  • Have a sound understanding of technology and scientific principles
  • Awareness of safe working practices and potential hazards
  • Be able to take responsibility and act on your own initiative
  • Have good IT skills
  • Take in technical information and put it into practice
  • Be friendly and polite when dealing with the public

Useful contacts

Cogent – Strategic body for skills in the science industries

www.cogentskills.com

Energy & Utility Skills – UK authority on professional development and employment in the energy and utilities industries

www.euskills.co.uk

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