With 26 partners from across the energy and utilities sector, we’re aiming to tackle future skills shortages to ensure we can continue to give customers the service they expect and deserve.
At NWG, we are playing our part, working with partners and a range of other organisations to deliver apprenticeships and other routes into the sector. We also work in schools to educate young people about water and also to enthuse them about our industry, so they see the varied and exciting careers available within the utilities sector.
The Partnership’s vision is: “Through our partnership, we will ensure a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce provides the essential services that our customers seek and meets the UK’s needs from the energy and utilities infrastructure.”
Working together we set three priorities for the sector:
Priority 1: Sector attractiveness and recruitment − to increase our future talent pool
The objective is to broaden the talent pool through demonstrating the attractiveness of our sector, inspiring and attracting new talent in a highly competitive recruitment environment.
Priority 2: Maximising investment in skills – investment made by asset owners and their supply chain
We will maximise the sector’s investment in skills, securing commitment for further investment in skills from asset owners and their vital delivery partners, and building a sustainable pipeline of apprenticeships. We will ensure that the people who are recruited can acquire the required skills, proficiencies and behaviours quickly and effectively and that existing employees are motivated by opportunities for upskilling and progression.
Priority 3 Targeted action – to address anticipated skill gaps and shortages
We will take targeted action to tackle the challenges and issues already recognised and prioritised by our Council of Energy and Utilities Chief Executives.
Our aspiration is simple – we want to get Everyone Home Safe Every Day.
Engaging our people is central to achieving to this. Our Everyone Home Safe Every Day campaign is about more than reducing accident levels – it’s ultimately about saving lives. Our innovation is about bringing people together, using technology and conversation hand in hand so our people go home safely every day.
With lots of our employees having worked for the organisation for years, we’ve explored new ways to communicate and engage with our workforce. We’ve shaken things up to try and show people they have a part to play, no matter how long they’ve worked here or how much experience they may have.
Taking a different approach to the way we engage with our people about safety has made people sit back and take more notice about the things they do every day.
In the past year, nearly 2000 employees have attended an Everyone Home Safe Every Day half day workshop; over 6000 60 Second Checks were completed and over 650 Safety Conversations were held. By using innovation and technology such as VR and smartphone apps and making it part of a wider engagement campaign to drive behavioural changes, we’ve helped people understand the vital role they all play to stay safe at work.
Our employee survey scores in December 2018 showed a 3% increase in the score for ‘I feel we have a strong safety culture’ over a 12 month period, so a good step up in a short space of time.
This scheme allows employees to give a minimum of 15 hours every year to support causes close to their hearts.
Since the launch of Just an Hour in 2002, our employees have given more than 100,000 hours in support of the communities we serve, something we are very proud of.
Last year 48.4% of employees – that’s more than 1,500 people - participated in Just an Hour, putting their wealth of knowledge, skills and expertise into our community support. More than 600 organisations were supported and almost 14,000 hours of volunteering time given.
Our employees often find opportunities through Just an Hour allow them to learn new skills and can increase their confidence so they also benefit. Some departments use Just an Hour for team building. The work goes on throughout the year, with people doing painting and decorating, taking part in the ‘Make My Day’ initiative, providing social media advice, gardening and even riding for the NHS’ Blood Banks Service.
There are two parts to our ViVa process – a simple thank you card, or a ViVa nomination, a more detailed submission which leads to the person being in with the chance of winning an award.
Each month, a ViVa steering group awards the top five scoring ViVa nominations with a prize of £50 each or £150 for a team. Every year we hold a ViVa awards ceremony, and nominations throughout the year are shortlisted down to five per category, with a judging panel (made up of directors, union reps and a regulator) picking a winner from the anonymous nominations.
There are also five categories – one for each of our values (with winners receiving £300 or £2,000 for a team), and an overall ViVa winner who receives £3,000.
Every year up to 200 employees attend the awards evening which is live-streamed on a Facebook group, and after the event, winners are announced through our intranet, in our digital newsletter and on DVD through our face to face Teamtalk sessions.
‘Our Way at NWG’ is our Code of Conduct which sets out our approach to meeting our wide ranging responsibilities.
A total of 132 existing employees, including some who have been in the company for decades, are working towards a qualification and furthering their skills via an apprenticeship programme alongside their day to day role. Last year we also welcomed 23 new apprentices into our Water Team.
We also offer development or retraining opportunities through apprenticeship programmes in many other varying aspects of the business such as Water Network/Distribution, Water Supply, Wastewater, Intelligence Operations and Customer Service, just to name a few.
Tracey Greener, Workforce Development Manager, said: "Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to take a first step into a career, but it's a myth that they are just for young people getting started.
"Increasingly, we are using Apprenticeship programmes to help our people make exciting career changes, either updating or enhancing their skills and experience within their existing roles, or changing direction entirely.
"We embrace all of these opportunities and have hundreds of our people taking advantage of what they have to offer, ranging from school leavers to those who have been with us for decades."
In 2019 we worked with the Energy and Utilities Independent Assessment Service and Water Train to build skills and develop knowledge in its Operational areas. We had 88 people achieve the Water Process Technician Standard to level 3, with many achieving Distinction grades.
The level 3 Standard is now our base line qualification for our operators and our commitment for its Licence to Operate through Energy and Utilities Independent Assessment Service.