With the shortfall in the water industry workforce predicted to exceed 60,000 within the next seven years and with 35% of skilled roles proving difficult to fill, there has never been a more crucial time to invest in the future of the sector. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we speak to apprentices across the organisation and look at how apprenticeships can support young entrants to the industry.
The water industry has been facing a personnel challenge for several years, with an ageing workforce not being replaced at the rate they retire – just 8% of those in the industry are under 24 years. As well as the number of qualified engineers and technicians falling overall, the increasing specialisation of those already in the industry is leaving a shortfall in some engineering specialisms and particularly in developing areas such as digital systems.
At VWT UK, our apprenticeship schemes are designed to address these challenges and develop a well-qualified group of new entrants across diverse engineering disciplines. By offering responsibility on real projects and the opportunity for personalised development, the scheme advertises the tangible value and benefits available in a water industry career.
The scheme offers opportunities across the range of VWT UK’s work areas, with current apprentices engaged in Maintenance, Quality Assurance, Laboratory Science, and Electronic and Electromechanical Engineering as well as several other fields. The breadth of placements currently being completed is testament to both the interests and skills of our students, and the variety of opportunities available in the sector for aspiring engineers and technicians.
The recognition of these opportunities is helping to encourage more aspiring utilities professionals towards starting their career with an apprenticeship – as is the flexibility of study modes open to those enrolled on the schemes. While some apprentices combine their placement with college-based study, others complete the program as part of a year in industry or whilst working part-time towards a degree. By the end of the scheme, participants have gained knowledge and experience as well as a clearer sense of where their interests might lead, and many go on to build successful careers with VWT UK.
Zachary Rowbotham is currently completing an apprenticeship as a Service Engineer at VWT UK. Discussing his motivations and his experience so far, he explained: “VWT UK is a well-established water treatment company on an international scale, and with that comes a sense of pride in working for them. My week starts with college on a Monday. At college I am completing a ‘MOET’ (Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician) course, and for the rest of the week I work on site assisting another VWT UK engineer. Every day is different when working on site. I’m enjoying meeting new customers and working on various types of equipment.”
Sarah Sutcliffe, who is enrolled as an apprentice Maintenance Engineer at VWT UK, said: “The most enjoyable part of my apprenticeship has been meeting all the people who I work with – they’ve helped me develop my communication and teamworking skills as well as my technical knowledge.”
Taking place from the 3rd to the 7th February, National Apprenticeship Week is the ideal opportunity to celebrate the successes of our existing apprentices. However, it is also important to highlight the need for the industry to provide and encourage apprenticeship training throughout diverse fields. Businesses need to invest and advocate apprenticeship schemes to engage and encourage young people to enter the water industry.
Click here to find out more about Veolia Water Technologies UK’s apprenticeships.
To hear what other apprentices have to say about VWT UK apprenticeship schemes, click here.
About the Author
Beverley studied HR at university and has spent her career working in the Water Industry. She has been with Veolia Water Technologies 16 years and has been HR Director for 5 of them. Beverley has extensive experience covering all aspects of HR and is passionate about learning & development within the business.