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Engineers from two power firms are helping those considering leaving the Armed Forces to explore career paths in the electricity industry …
UK Power Networks, Britain’s biggest electricity network, together with UK Power Networks Services, which provides infrastructure services for the MoD and other clients, are helping people serving in the military get into the electricity industry. The companies are providing new work experience placements (known as civilian work attachments) to help military personnel move into civilian jobs.
Anita Boye, recruitment specialist at UK Power Networks, matches future Service leavers with employees who can give them an insight to the electricity industry. UK Power Networks and UK Power Networks Services, which together currently employ 70 military veterans, have already hosted four attachments and have two more in the pipeline.
Says Anita: ‘Service leavers are excited to work with people who understand their background and can give relevant advice to support their future career development. They want to follow in their footsteps and we try to pair them up with people in roles they aspire to. We try to find the common ground between the individuals who reach out to us and the people in our company’s Armed Forces community. If they are seeking operational work, we pair them with a field staff supervisor to guide them and this includes which qualifications they should pursue.’
Career connections: Stuart Sadler, serving in the Corps of Royal Engineers, spent four days with UK Power Networks’ operations team, working with power industry mentor Luke Harvey, a field engineer at UK Power Networks in Enfield
She adds: ‘We owe these people our lives. They risk everything to make sure we stay safe and, when they come back, we have a social obligation to help them. That’s why I feel so passionate about this.’
Alastair Smith, from Warminster, currently serving as a military engineer electrician with the Royal Engineers, says: ‘Opening the lines of communication and establishing that early engagement on my resettlement journey with UK Power Networks Services has been vital. This has enabled me to shape a very specific resettlement plan. My aspirations will be to leave the Army with the HNC Electrical Engineering and gain employment with UK Power Networks Services.’
UK Power Networks Services manages the electricity networks for six Army garrisons across Bulford, Aldershot, Larkhill, Perham Down, Tidworth and Warminster. Alastair’s mentor is Ross Corbishley, a project engineer for UK Power Networks Services in Aldershot, who has a deep connection with the military, as his brother is ex-Army Royal Engineers.
Says Ross: ‘We have managed to build Alastair a target plan. This shows him getting a few courses done before he leaves the Army, which would mean he would come to us for interview with relevant courses already complete. While there is no guarantee of employment, I wouldn’t hesitate in working with him until the time comes, to give him the best opportunity to make himself the most employable candidate when he does apply to UK Power Networks Services.’
Alastair adds: ‘Ross is a perfectly matched mentor for me, a consummate professional, and he delivered both civilian work attachments professionally and with a tremendous amount of passion for the job and company.’
Matt Carter, from Battle, East Sussex who is in the Army Royal Signals, joined UK Power Networks Services for a day to learn about becoming a cable jointer. He says: ‘It was a valuable experience, offering a unique insight into what UK Power Networks Services does. The work attachment has aided me in choosing a new career outside the Royal Signals, and this has helped give me direction regarding my resettlement. I would like to thank Ross and the team for an enjoyable day.’
Resettlement plans: Alastair Smith, a military engineer electrician with the Royal Engineers, with his civilian mentor, Ross Corbishley, a project engineer for UK Power Networks Services in Aldershot
Matthew Hodges, from Basildon, currently serving with 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, spent two days working in the Cambridge area with Alan Rigby, a field staff supervisor at UK Power Networks. Matthew comments: ‘It was absolutely brilliant. I had a really good time and learned a lot. The team I worked with were very helpful and patient, and were really good at explaining things and showing me what they do.’
His power industry mentor, Alan Rigby, adds: ‘Having Matthew join us at Waterbeach for two days has been a tremendous success. He now has a good knowledge of how UK Power Networks operates, our excellent safety culture and high expectations of all employees across all parts of the business.’
Stuart Sadler, from Edmonton, North London, serving in the Corps of Royal Engineers, spent four days with a network operations field team in the Enfield area. He plans to return to gain an insight into electricity network design, which the company is trying to facilitate. He said: ‘I shadowed engineers, linespeople and jointers for the week. It was an educational experience and a great insight into what UK Power Networks does. The teams, both in the office and on the ground, were welcoming and answered every question I could think to ask. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the placement and would fully recommend it to others who are considering leaving the military.’
His power industry mentor was Luke Harvey, a field engineer at UK Power Networks, based in Enfield. Luke says: ‘Stuart was involved in works from pulling cables to assisting the linespeople with pole holes. He saw a couple of shutdowns and cable jointing, asked questions and even stayed late to see jobs through.’
UK Power Networks earned Investors In People ‘Platinum’ status and signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2015, to show support for fair treatment of the Armed Forces, their families and veterans. Its commitment to the Armed Forces earned it a Silver award in the MoD’s Employer Recognition Scheme. The company has benefited from a long-standing relationship with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), which is the MoD’s official provider of resettlement, supporting all leavers of the Armed Forces.
Unique insight: Matt Carter, who is in the Army Royal Signals, joined UK Power Networks Services to learn about becoming an electricity cable jointer
John Thornton, CTP employer relationship manager, says: ‘The CTP values working with organisations like UK Power Networks to provide employment pathways for our Service leavers. It recognises the experience, skills and work ethic that ex-Forces personnel bring to the workforce and has taken a proactive approach to recruitment through the CTP by offering career work attachments, posting vacancies on our job site, RightJob, and running events.’
In September, UK Power Networks will be running an electricity insight day in Aldershot for people in the Armed Services. Click here for more information on how it is working with the CTP to recruit Service leavers of all ranks into a variety of roles.
ABOUT UK POWER NETWORKS
UK Power Networks is the country’s biggest electricity distributor, making sure the lights stay on for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the south-east and east of England.
Network operators aren’t the same as energy suppliers; network operators manage local power lines and substations, while energy suppliers sell the electricity that runs through the power lines.
UK Power Networks continues to be listed in the Top 25 Best Big Companies to Work For, and made industry history by becoming first company to win Utility of the Year two years running (2015 and 2016, as well as in 2012).
The company invests more than £600 million in its electricity networks every year, offers extra help to vulnerable customers at times of need, and is undertaking trials to ensure that electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future. It also moves cables and connects new electricity supplies.
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Main image (top of page): UK Power Networks’ field staff supervisor, Alan Rigby (left) with linesman Aaron Kirby, who spent 12 years in the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment before joining UK Power Networks five years ago