Once considered an option solely for people under 25, apprenticeships are increasingly used for people of all ages looking to expand their skills or re-train.
Northumbrian Water is giving people, including some who already have decades of workplace experience, a chance to continue their professional development by using apprenticeship programmes that allow them to continue working alongside their studies.
Currently, more than 90 employees are undertaking Level 3 Apprenticeships relating to Water Engineering, while more than 30 are working towards qualifications in Customer Service. Others are taking Apprenticeship programmes in subjects as wide ranging as Business Accounting, Human Resources, Laboratory Technician and Construction.
Paul Walker, an Area Manager in Customer Field Services, has been working for more than 20 years, but is now studying towards a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship with Teesside University while continuing in his role at Northumbrian Water.
He said: “I’m passionate about professional development, I think it’s crucial in your personal and business life, and the next natural progression for me was a degree, so the opportunity to achieve that through the Apprenticeship route, where I work and study at the same time is fantastic.
“Expanding my understanding of the theory of what I do and want to do in the future, while actually working, and also learning from the other students, who are applying the knowledge in different businesses, is a really great way to bring all that knowledge together and develop my skills.”
Production Operator Aron Potter is working towards a Level 3 Diploma in Water Engineering – Water Supply as a route into a career change within Northumbrian Water. After nine years working in litigation, he obtained a permanent role in the Water Supply team and has embarked on his Apprenticeship programme within that position.
He said: “Taking on an Apprenticeship programme has been a fantastic way to get into what is effectively my second career with Northumbrian Water. The tutors come into our sites to see us and I’ve been moving around different parts of the business, learning about the different types of water extraction, from reservoirs to rivers and boreholes, and how we then treat and deliver that water to our customers at the highest possible standards, all while expanding my theoretical knowledge.”
Training Contracts Manager Tracey Greener said: “Apprenticeships are Industry recognised learning programmes. They are for people of all ages, and not just those starting out on a career.
"They are a fantastic opportunity to expand or update knowledge relating to an existing career, or for someone looking to retrain.
“Also, you can use an Apprenticeship programme to gain many different levels of qualification, up to and including Masters, and they are a fantastic option for people who simply are not inclined towards a purely academic route, so they really are no longer just something for school leavers.”
To find out more about careers at Northumbrian Water, which was voted the UK’s top utility company in 2017, visit www.nwl.co.uk/careers.