Feeding the pipeline: Water companies team up to tap into future talent

Utilities companies including Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk are working together to feed the pip

Utilities companies including Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk are working together to feed the pipeline of new talent - Credit: Archant

The region's biggest water companies have revealed plans to come together to tap into the talent of the future.

Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water are among the utilities firms collaborating in an attempt to boost the talent pool for an industry which is estimated to need 221,000 new recruits over the next decade.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership has been formed to devise a strategy assessing the industry's challenges, the measures in place to deal with them, and how they can be improved.

Anglian Water estimates a third of its workforce will retire in the next 10 years, and needs to enthuse youngsters about careers in the utilities industry.

Chief executiv Peter Simpson said: 'Without action, the UK's STEM skills gap could bring our country and economy to a grinding halt. This is why we're working hard to inspire a future generation – the engineers, architects, scientists and managers of tomorrow – and make the sector more attractive to young people.'

The partnership brings together water, power, gas, wastewater and waste management industries.

It has already set up the Talent Source Network, a 12-month pilot scheme targeting hard-to-reach potential recruits, former service personnel and those who want to retrain from similar industries such as oil and gas.

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To encourage youngsters to choose careers in the industry, Anglian Water sponsors a technical college in Peterborough, but it has also removed the upper age limit on its apprentice programme, in an attempt to attract those looking for a second career.

It has invested in promoting the Women in Engineering initiative and runs education teams which speak to 20,000 children a year.

Its education centre in Colchester has had 10,000 children through the doors over the past 10 years to learn about how water relates to science, engineering, technology and the natural world.

Heidi Mottram, Essex & Suffolk Water chief executive, said: 'Our sector is changing at a rapid pace. Innovation and emerging technologies are shaping new developments and new ways of delivering our service.

'Artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and digitisation are setting the agenda for change and we need people with the right skills to help us take advantage of these emerging opportunities.'