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Former electrician to the stars to climb ladder of opportunity

In the run up to the tenth National Apprenticeship Week (March 6-10), a Flitwick man is embarking on a career with the UK’s biggest power distribution company.

From Press releases - 7 March 2017 12:00 AM

Sam Newman.jpg

UK Power Networks, which keeps the lights on across the east of England, South East and London, ran a very competitive selection process after about 100 people from varied walks of life, applied for seven Power Networks Craftsperson apprenticeships late last year. The company has already trained more than 250 apprentices in the past five years to help fill the industry’s skills gap.

Once trained, Sam Newman, 28, from Flitwick in Bedfordshire will be a cable jointer, helping ensure smart meters are smoothly installed by electricity suppliers, in homes and businesses across Borehamwood in future. He will follow an 18-month Trailblazer Apprenticeship framework, which includes a qualification in electrical power engineering.

Before winning a place on the apprenticeship scheme, Sam was a domestic, commercial and industrial electrician and also did stage lighting in Edinburgh, including work for several celebrities. He said: I put in temporary lighting for a big party J K Rowling was having, at Simon Pegg’s house I had to run a long cable for his tennis ball machine, and I put in an electrical cable for Martin Freeman’s ‘lad’s pad’ summer house.”

He said: “I was very happy to be offered the apprenticeship. I was on my hands and knees at work, covered in dust at the end of a hard day. As an electrician I had always been a sub-contractor for ten years so it was a good career move to apply to UK Power Networks. It’s clearly a very professional company which likes to treat people well. I think it will give me good opportunities to progress – I would like to move on to being a high voltage cable jointer and gain a qualification to work in power stations, move into management and supervision and see how far I can go.”

Sam is also a dad to five-month-old baby Noah, and a former pupil of Redbourne Upper School in Ampthill.

Steven Read, trainees programmes manager at UK Power Networks 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.”

In 2016 UK Power Networks’ first group of smart meter trainees became the first apprentices in the country to complete the new Trailblazer apprenticeship 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.

Factfile (source www.gov.uk):

• Apprenticeships are available in 1,500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries

• After finishing, the majority of apprentices (90%) stay in employment (including 2% self-employed), with seven in ten (71%) staying with the same employer

• Apprenticeship participation increased to 899,400 in the 2015/16 academic year, up 3.2 per cent on 2014/15 and the highest number on record

• Over 200 Trailblazers involving more than 1400 employers and more than 160 new standards are in development

• A quarter of former apprentices had been promoted (23%) within 12 months of finishing

• 83% of apprentices said their career prospects had improved