The energy and utilities industry is essential to life as we know it today. We could not live without it. Think of your mobile phone or any other electronic device you own, it is powered by this industry. However, it is also changing, with green and sustainable energy sources, new emerging technologies and Net Zero targets shaping the future. You could be part of it.
About the Energy and Utilities Sector
Traditionally, we relied solely on fossil fuels for our energy needs. Think of oil, coal and gas. Nuclear power also contributed a significant amount to our daily lives, and continues to this day. However, the industry is seeing a shift towards generating more sustainable long-term sources of energy. Creating energy is simply one part of the sector though. Essential careers exist to then supply our homes, schools and workplaces with water, power and gas. These roles are vital to maintaining our daily lives.
What Can I Do?
There are a huge range of jobs available within the energy and utilities sector. Careers can be found in different areas like gas, electricity, water and nuclear power. There are many different supporting roles available too, from scientists, plumbing and even sales and marketing. There is definitely something out there for you!
Let’s take a look at what’s on offer:
Accounting and finance – most companies need people to manage their finances. Utilities companies are no different! Roles range from financial planners, accountants, business analysts and auditors.
Engineers – this role involves research into ways of creating energy from the resources we have available to us. This includes fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil), but also nuclear energy. It also increasingly includes renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Think of wind farms! Engineering can also involve doing the work directly to extract the energy from these sources.
Electricians – this includes maintaining the supply of electricity to our homes, workplaces and schools. As an electrician, you would ensure that these places are wired up to receive this supply.
HR (Human Resources) – HR roles are available within all sectors of the employment industry. They look after the employees of the company, but are also responsible for hiring and career progression. If you are a people person this could be a role for you!
IT (Information Technology) – roles in IT have increased dramatically as the modern world has gone digital. Roles within IT can range from technicians, to providing customer support and server maintenance
Plumbers – similarly to electricians, as a plumber you would ensure the supply of water and gas. The maintenance of essential equipment like our boilers is also part of this role.
Sales and Marketing – these roles involve trying to attract new customers for utilities companies, whether they be national or smaller businesses. There are sales positions, but also administrative roles available around the planning of marketing campaigns.
Scientists – this covers a wide range of roles, from ecologists, geologists and chemists. You could play a role in advancing the development of sustainable energy.
This list is by no means comprehensive but as you can see, there is a diversity of opportunities in energy and utilities!
What kinds of skills will I need?
To work in the energy and utilities sector, you will need to display some key skills including:
Communication – the ability to be able to communicate well with colleagues and customers is essential in all careers, not just energy and utilities. If you are in a technical role, you will need to be able to communicate ideas well to potential customers.
Flexibility – you will likely need to be flexible around working hours and location to work in this sector. Hours can be unsociable and you could be asked to relocate for work, as well as regularly working outdoors. This does not apply to all roles though, so don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of the cold!
Literacy Skills – the ability to read and comprehend written information is an important skill for this sector.
Numeracy Skills – this is a particularly important requirement if you are interested in a scientific role.
Perseverance – if you are to succeed in this industry, you will need to prove you can carry on even when things get difficult. There will be plenty of support for you out there though!
Problem-solving skills – working in the sector requires you to come up with solutions to problems, this could be in technical roles such as engineering. However, it can also include customer service and administrative roles.
Teamwork – although you should already be able to work as part of a team, working in this sector will develop your ability to work well with others.
Don’t worry if you don’t possess some of these skills yet, you’ll gain these once you start your training for the job!
How do I get into the Energy and Utilities Sector?
There are lots of routes to the energy and utilities sector. These include vocational training routes, such as apprenticeships and NVQs. It can also involve traditional academic routes such as A Levels and going to university. There are lots of opportunities available so explore them all!
With an apprenticeship, you are able to earn a salary while you learn. This is a great experience to get real life experience of working, while gaining a qualification at the same time.
Apprenticeships are available across the energy and utilities sector, such as electricity, gas and water. Like the sector as a whole, apprenticeships can be scientific, but they aren’t the only ones on offer.
Apprenticeships often involve more practical work alongside your learning. There are also different types of apprenticeships, from intermediate, advanced, higher and degree apprenticeships.
If you are interested in a career in the energy and utilities sector and are choosing your A Levels carefully. If you like the idea of becoming an engineer, for example, it might be worth choosing A Level courses that can help you on your way.
Useful A Levels:
- Business studies (for supporting roles)
If you have a particular career in mind, you could try and base your A Levels around this.
Certain jobs in the sector require a university degree or equivalent. These are usually in high-skilled areas, such as aspects of engineering, or areas which need degree levels of scientific knowledge.
Like your A Levels, you should try to pick a degree course around a particular role if you have one in mind.
Case Study - Janeece Hylton: Business Analyst (National Grid)
Business Analyst Apprentice Janeece Hylton had a university offer, but she chose an apprenticeship instead. Now she’s learning from the people around her while she climbs the career ladder and studies.
On A-Level results day, I had to choose between an IT apprenticeship here or a French Studies degree at Warwick University. I’m so glad I decided to start working immediately, especially for such an exciting and impactful company. Each day I’m learning new things as I progress. Power is so essential to our everyday lives and I get to be part of the energy workforce.
Growing in confidence through work
It surprised me how much the people around you want to bring out the best in you, supporting you in every aspect of work. Not just my inspirational mentor, but everyone I work with sharing words of wisdom and explaining how important it is to focus on your own self and your strengths and weaknesses. I was Head Girl at school, but I was always a bit of an over-thinker. I’ve grown in confidence since I started working.
A big part of my role is acting as a go-between to different departments and teams – like business and IT – discovering their different priorities, potential obstacles and mapping a cohesive process so everyone can work together to achieve a common goal.
It’s been quite challenging bringing people together online during COVID, rather than seeing them across the room. But I feel very privileged to have the security of a job and a big positive is feeling closer to my parents, who are both key workers, while I work from home in Coventry.
I’ve discovered my role is really well suited to me as a person. During the assessment centre day, I was presented with three different IT specialisms; based on my performance throughout the day, I was encouraged to pick business analysis and I’m so pleased I did.
Learning there are no ‘silly questions’
I’m goal-orientated and I like working to an end-point or deadline. I’ve always been inquisitive and I never hold back from asking the ‘silly questions’. It’s rewarding to see how well matched I am in character to my role.
You know that saying, ‘when you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’? That’s how I feel. I’m working in the adult world and I feel so comfortable and at ease, not out of my depth at all.
You know that saying, ‘when you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’? That’s how I feel.
To anyone thinking about joining the apprenticeship programme, I’d say go for it! Whatever your background, you’ll always fit in and be accepted. You’ll always have opportunities to progress in different roles and departments. People here welcome new ideas, so don’t be afraid to challenge existing practices. Never shy away from asking questions; people are happy to take the time to explain.
Don’t be put off by the hierarchies of a complex organisation – it means there are lots of ladders for you to climb in your career. And all the senior leaders are very approachable and down-to-earth. I recently received an email from a member of the US leadership team, congratulating me on a project after my line manager told him about the work I’d put in.
There’s a real culture of celebrating individuals and their contributions here.