UK Power Networks Service

Gravesend apprentice puts his career on track

06 November 2017

A Gravesend teenager has started his career with UK Power Networks Services, the company that powers the high-speed railway line between London and the Channel Tunnel – High Speed 1. Joe Lewis, who is 16, is beginning a three-year foundation apprenticeship.

There were more than 400 applications for the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards scheme and following his success Joe is training to be a substation fitter for the UK Power Networks Services team that is responsible for the 60 substations that provide power for the High Speed 1 line. He will complete his training and college work at the company’s training centres in Kent and Suffolk and put his new skills into practice from his depot in Singlewell.

The beginning of Joe's apprenticeship coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the entire length of High Speed 1, which has enabled passengers to travel up to 186 miles per hour from London St Pancras to Kent, Paris and Brussels.

The work Joe is about to embark on will contribute to the success of High Speed 1 being the most reliable railway line in Europe, with more than 75,000 train services and 20 million passengers travelling on the line each year.

The former Northfleet Technology College student said: "I'm going to be looking after electricity substations to keep electricity flowing to the high speed railway line. We have a responsibility to make sure the electricity gets to where it needs to be.

"My brother has just finished his apprenticeship with the company and works as an overhead linesman in Strood. I was happy to get the job because this is a good company to work for, with good career prospects, where everything is done by the book from a health and safety perspective.

"I would rather complete an apprenticeship than go on to sixth form or college. The selection process was different! In the final stage, after the interview, we went on a three-day camping trek. I want to stay here now and progress within the company."

Steven Read, the company's trainees' programmes manager, said: "Ensuring that we have skilled crafts people working on our distribution network is key to ensure that our customers' electricity supply is maintained. The recruitment and training of apprentices enable us to grow our skills base, which is important in our industry.

"Our chosen candidates should be proud of their success. It was a highly competitive process and we were looking for a very specific type of person who will have the dedication and ability needed for these crucial roles."

This year the company teamed up with 28 energy and utility companies through the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership to launch the new Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy. The strategy is raising the profile of job opportunities, training and skills through to 2020 in an industry that provides essential power, gas, water and waste management services to 65 million people across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

UK Power Networks has already trained more than 250 apprentices in the past five years to help fill the industry's skills gap and currently has 66 apprentices completing training with the company. Last year UK Power Networks apprentices became the first in the country to complete the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards and received their certificates at the House of Commons. For a chance to follow in their footsteps see the careers pages at www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk