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Electricity workers have the power to keep learning

Britain’s biggest electricity distributor invested over £700,000 last year in work-related qualifications to help staff to climb the career ladder and improve customer service.

From Press releases - 18 May 2018 12:00 AM

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The company that delivers electricity supplies in London, the South East and East of England approved 254 new supported studies applications last year, while 120 people continued with formal studies including technical, management, degrees and other qualifications.

One of those to benefit from learning at work was Samantha Burchell, network operations manager for Croydon, who successfully completed her studies and now manages the experienced technical teams that run the electricity network for 230,000 homes and businesses.

Samantha joined the company in an administrative role in 1997, gained huge experience in different roles and set her heart on becoming an engineer in network operations. With A-levels in languages she lacked relevant qualifications so studied for a Higher National Diploma in electrical engineering.

Samantha said: “It was a huge commitment, studying one day a week and homework. If you want something badly enough you can do it, especially with UK Power Networks, who invest in staff who want to take vocational qualifications. They paid for all my qualifications and sent me to college one day a week for six and a half years. I studied really hard and felt that I didn’t have a life at times, but it was well worthwhile.

“I never thought in million years I’d be an area manager, doing a job like this. It exceeded my expectations. I am conscious of the responsibilities I have got. I manage a large team and budget and look after 230,000 customers – and I absolutely love it.”

On average UK Power Networks’ employees received nearly six days of training last year, amounting to more than 257,000 hours of training. The company also gives staff access to 258 flexible e-learning courses ranging from IT skills and customer service courses to health and safety and wellbeing, such as expert advice on sleep and nutrition. Staff can also sign up in their lunch breaks for regular bitesize learning sessions.

To celebrate Learning at Work Week (May 14-20) the company’s HR department organised a festival of learning across different sites in London, Ipswich and Crawley. There were crash courses in Excel and Powerpoint, language taster sessions in Spanish, Italian, Russian and Mandarin and confidence building workshops.

Sarah Porcelli, head of learning and development at UK Power Networks, said: “Having employees with the right skills, capabilities and behaviours is key to us achieving sustainable business success. The value of having a tailored, organisation-wide talent management strategy is that it provides a focus on our employees’ development; demonstrates a clear link to our “Employer of Choice” vision and plays a valuable role in helping employees to feel engaged and motivated.”