“Opening doors that I could only have dreamed of”: stories from National Apprenticeship Week 2024
To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we are celebrating the role played by apprentices in the water sector.
Every year water companies offer a wide range of apprenticeships with opportunities available at varying levels and in every region of the UK. From engineering and finance to human resources and technical operations, there is a range of roles to choose from.
National Apprenticeship Week 2024 falls at an exciting time for the sector as water companies in England and Wales will invest £14.4 billion between 2024 and 2025 – the highest amount ever in a single year. Amongst other things this investment will help to build 10 new reservoirs, repair and replace over 2,000 kilometres of pipes and increase the capacity of dozens of wastewater treatment works which will mean more capacity to treat sewage than ever before.
In this blog, we learn more about some of the many new talented apprentices who have recently started their career in water. If you’re interested in finding out more about water company apprenticeships available in your area, please contact your local company.
Jodie, Finance Apprentice, South West Water
28-year-old Jodie had always thought that apprenticeships were for school leavers only but after seeing her 25-year-old sibling successfully apply for one she was inspired to find a finance apprenticeship. A maths enthusiast, Jodie was attracted to her current role after seeing how she would be able to start at entry level with no previous experience.
Jodie is enjoying taking part in the department’s rotation scheme as she is gaining experience in many different areas. Jodie said: “It’s like fitting together pieces of a puzzle and each rotation connects with the previous in some way. I also enjoy meeting all the different team members and feeling connected.”
Tom Douthwaite, Apprentice Operational Technician, Hafren Dyfrdwy
18-year-old Tom was determined to find a new career path after finding that sixth-form college wasn’t for him. Day to day Tom works at water treatment plants, helping with a variety of tasks.
He thinks that apprenticeships are a brilliant way to grow as a person and he enjoys having lots of opportunities to meet and speak with new people.
Aga Borecka, Higher Level Science Apprentice, Northern Ireland Water
After previously working in sales 37-year-old Aga was attracted to a role in the water industry when she realised it would allow her to fulfil her dream of wearing a “lab coat.”
As a Higher Level Apprentice in Science, Aga is responsible for preparing drinking water samples for testing. She is enjoying having the chance to learn new skills in the workplace while also studying at the same time at a college with the option of progressing onto a university degree course.
Aga said: “I have so far found the programme challenging yet rewarding. I have acquired a substantial quantity of new skills and knowledge in the workplace and in college. With the support of colleagues, and especially my mentor, I can already see my progress and envisage future development.”
Lewis Drew, Level 7 Solicitor Apprentice, Pennon Group
Lewis is 24 and had previously worked as a Paralegal before being hired as Pennon Group’s first Solicitor Apprentice six months ago. As a non-law graduate, he was particularly drawn to his role because of the opportunity it gave him to gain practical work experience alongside learning theory.
Lewis enjoys being exposed to a wide variety of work and he describes his water apprenticeship as helping him to “develop more than I could have ever imagined. It is a dynamic and exciting time to be in the water industry, and the experiences you can gain from that are too valuable to miss.”
Connor, Assistant Water Network Technician, Severn Trent
24-year-old Connor’s role involves locating leaks in the water network and ensuring that Severn Trent customers receive a ready supply of clean water. He likes how his job takes him outdoors and he particularly enjoys the fact that it “requires a lot of problem-solving.”
Connor credits his apprenticeship with helping him to grow in confidence and push himself out of his comfort zone. Since starting his role, he has already met with senior Ofwat professionals and taken part in a live radio interview with the BBC!
Katrina Clark, Level 3 Project Controls Apprentice, United Utilities
Katrina is 21 and had previously worked as a part time lifeguard before she came across her apprenticeship at United Utilities after attending a local careers fair.
She was always looking for a maths-based career option and as a Projects Controls Apprentice it is her responsibility to make sure that projects are being carried out within their agreed budgets. In the future Katrina would like to manage a team and become a Senior Project Controller.
Gabriel Akowuah, Mechanical Higher Engineering Apprentice, Thames Water
Gabriel is in the first year of his apprenticeship and studying towards a degree apprenticeship in Product Design and Development. He spends one day a week at college and the rest of the week as part of the Clean Water Non-Infrastructure Capital Delivery team.
From a young age Gabriel has had a passion for engineering and he is currently working on a project to install six new pumps in Brixton. Gabriel said: “I chose to apply for Thames Water because I heard about how Thames is very inclusive of people from all different backgrounds and welcomes them with open arms. It was very important to me that I can work in a company that accepts everyone and will help me develop skills that I can use throughout my career.”
Christina McCahon, Graduate Trainee Account, Northern Ireland Water
Aged 22, Christina was an existing employee of Northern Ireland Water before she decided to apply for the role of Graduate Trainee Accountant as part of the company’s Entry Level Academy programme.
Christina is enjoying the opportunity and is grateful for the ongoing training she is receiving as she works towards her goal of becoming a Chartered Accountant. She added: “My favourite thing about my role is that I have never done anything like it before. The people around me are wonderful and very helpful, and every day is a learning day in the office and in my studies.”