Women in Utilities

Continuing to help increase industry diversity

   02 November 2021         News

Develop Training has continued its pledge to play a full and active part in helping increase industry diversity after it launched the second cohort of its ‘Women in Utilities’ programme.

This ground-breaking programme offers free training to help women take the next step in their careers.

Develop Training, one of the UK’s leading providers of technical and compliance training for the utility sector and part of the JTL Group, described the issue as having moved to centre-stage in the wake of a series of reports which recognise how the sector’s diversity is below the UK average for gender, BAME and disability.

First launched in 2019

Develop launched its Women in Utilities success programme in 2019, where it offered eight women working in the industry the opportunity to access high quality training, mentoring and support for free.  Despite the pandemic the programme continued throughout 2020 and into 2021. It involved providing each participant up to 15 days’ worth of free training to support their roles and career aspirations.

Few women in a male-dominated industry

Ayisha Khurshid, Business Development Manager at Energy & Utility Skills was one of the first from the launch programme to finish her training and is now a mentor to the new cohort. Ayisha spoke at the induction event about her experiences of being in the industry. She said:

“I really enjoyed my experiences on the first programme and definitely gained some great skills and knowledge. It was a real pleasure to have the time to discuss mental resilience, emotional intelligence and generally have open conversations about what it is really like being female in a very male-dominated industry and more importantly – how we can all play a part in helping redress the balance.”

Help achieving goals and aspirations

Stella Matthews, Hydrogen Development Manager, Northern Gas Networks talked about her experience of being accepted on the programme and what she hopes to gain from it.

Stella said, “It has been a fantastic two days, getting to know the other participants and hearing about everyone’s differing careers and aspirations.  We all have our own goals, mine is by the end of the programme that I understand not only what the operational teams are doing, but also why, to help broaden my knowledge and skill set and enable me to manage my teams more effectively.”

More about the Women in Utilities Success Programme

Nichola Kitching, Key Account Manager and Programme Lead said:

“Our Women in Utilities success programme was the first scheme of its type and its fantastic we are now starting our second cohort of the programme.

According to the Energy & Utility Skills (2021) Workforce Planning Analysis only 18% of the sector is female compared to 47% as a UK average. With the majority of these roles being customer service and administrative we certainly have a long way to go if we are to play our part in addressing the skills gap. We need to make the sector more attractive by making the industry as accessible and welcoming as possible in order that we widen the pool of talent that we recruit from.”

Photo (left to right):

  • Nichola Kitching, Develop
  • Rebecca Cassie, Engineering Compliance, Network Plus
  • Rachel Gray, Project Manager, Energy Assets
  • Stella Matthews Northern Gas Networks
  • Lindsay McIvor, Engineer, Precision Group
  • Sarah Standish, Design Manager (Utilities) Bethell Construction Limited
  • Rachelle Hornby, Utility Cost and Revenue Assurance Manager, Ancala Water Services
  • Haylea Rawlinson, Sco Writer, Network Plus
  • Hayley Arscott, Programme Manager, Ancala Water Service

Andy Holmes talks to Erewash Sound

   15 April 2021         News

Andy Holmes, the brains behind our hugely successful Women in Utilities programme, recently spoke to Ollie Darvill on Erewash Sound Radio about the ongoing problem of gender diversity in the utilities industry.

In case you missed it, listen to the recording here.

What is the Women in Utilities Success Programme?

The programme is designed to accelerate the careers of women in the utility industry, provide advocacy and mentoring to support pathways to leadership roles, as well as strive to create a culture of empowerment.

In a nutshell:

  • An advanced programme of training, networking and mentoring for women in the utility industry.
  • The programme will provide qualifications relevant to the individuals sector/job role through 15 days of training (Valued up to £15k – at no cost to the participant).
  • The programme will provide participants with a high level of skills including an understanding of the challenges the industry faces, global perspectives from various industry leaders.
  • A network of mentors among leading women in the industry.
  • Provide companies with a solution to training and CSR through this high level programme.
  • Helps companies in the sector to identify talent and reach gender equality benchmarks.
  • Become part of a network of alumni to then support the next generation of participants by becoming mentors of the programme.

Success for Women in Utilities

   25 March 2021         News

Develop Training is seeing the first signs of success from a national training programme designed to champion women in the utilities industry.

The Women in Utilities success programme initially offered free places to eight female candidates keen to progress in this traditionally male-dominated industry.

Administrator to Contracts Manager on gas holder demolition sites

Now, the first woman to be accepted on the programme last year, Annie Thompson (29), is celebrating a major promotion from her administrative role with Northern Gas Networks to managing contracts on gas holder demolition sites.

While she still has further days scheduled for completing her training, due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic, Annie believes her promotion would not have been possible without the excellent support provided by Develop at its Derby training centre.

Squashing male-female stereotypes

And, after starting her new dream job earlier this month, she is urging any women with similar ambitions in any industry sector to go and do it.

“We need to squash these male-female stereotypes in this day and age,” she said. “It might feel daunting for many women to enter a traditionally male-dominated world – but it’s certainly not like it used to be any more.

I’ve had absolutely no negative reactions on site – quite the opposite in fact. And even with me being less than five feet tall, often tumbling out of those big vans, nobody bats an eyelid.”

The support from Develop has been second to none

“The training from Develop has been amazing, and the fact that they are willing to support women getting into these roles is just fantastic.”

Develop Training, part of the JTL Group, is one of the UK’s leading providers of compliance, technical and safety training. Based in Ascot Drive, Derby, it also has dedicated training centres in York, Romford, Swindon, Manchester & Linlithgow in Scotland.

Increasing diversity and inclusion in the utilities industry

The brainchild behind the Women in Utilities success programme was Andy Holmes, business risk and assurance manager at Develop Training, who recognised the importance of increasing diversity and inclusion in the utilities industry.

Just 17 per cent of the workforce in the utilities sector is female

This followed a study from the Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership which found that just 17 per cent of the workforce in the utilities sector were female, and 99 per cent of “craft” or technical roles were held by men. This compares with a UK workforce average of 47 per cent women.

Andy said: “Our Women in Utilities success programme is the first scheme of its type that we have undertaken.

“Straight away, we realised how important it was, not only for the eight women who agreed to take part, but also in the way it has helped us to re-evaluate our own training practices, to ensure they are as inclusive of as many people as possible.

“Everyone at Develop Training is delighted to hear that our programme has enabled Annie to get the job she really wanted within Northern Gas Networks. We wish her every success in the future.”

Pledge to increase industry diversity

   13 January 2021         News

Develop Training has pledged to play a full and active part in helping increase diversity in the industry during 2021 after it delivered the first free training days of a ground-breaking programme set up to help women take the next step in their careers.

Derby-based Develop Training, which is part of the JTL Group, described the issue as having moved to centre-stage during 2020 in the wake of a series of reports which recognise how the sector’s diversity is below the UK average for gender, BAME and disability, with one study from the Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership finding that just 17% of the workforce in utilities are female, with more than 99% of employees working at craft level being male.

This compares with to a UK workforce average of 47%.

15 days’ worth of training for women working in utilities

Last year Develop launched its Women in Utilities success programme, where it offered eight women working in the industry the opportunity to access high quality training, mentoring and support for free, giving them 15 days’ worth of training in any sector and any discipline, to be taken whenever they wanted.

COVID-19 delayed start of the programme

Develop sent out a call for applicants last March, but due to the lockdown it wasn’t until October that the first learner, Annie Thomson, Regional Customer Operations Administrator at Northern Gas Networks (NGN), was able to access her training days.

She chose a two-day Core Domestic Meter Installation & Commissioning (Limited Scope) course, where she learned the basics of how to install and commission domestic gas sized meters that are sealed off at the meter outlet fitting.

A few weeks later Charlotte King, Contracts and Procurement Manager at WK Engineering Services Ltd in Weston-Super-Mare, took up five days of free training on Develop’s Service and Mainlaying Skills for Managers course.

Aimed at agents, supervisors and network managers, the course offers entry-level experience of working in a utility environment, and is ideal for managers with no formal qualifications in gas networks.

Charlotte chose the course because she has been involved with the operational side of the business for six years and wanted to gain a more thorough understanding and awareness of the technical elements of upstream and downstream gas networks.

Re-evaluating how Develop offer training

Andy Holmes, Develops H&S Manager, who had the initial idea for the programme, said:

“Our Women in Utilities success programme is the first scheme of its type that we have undertaken and it was frustrating to have to wait until towards the end of the year to get it underway because of the coronavirus restrictions.

“However, straight away we realised how important it is to undertake something like this, because of the way in which it will help us to re-evaluate how we offer training to make sure that it’s inclusive of as many people as possible.

“We’re very grateful to all eight women for agreeing to take part because while we’re helping them, we know that we will learn a lot from their participation and how they feel about everything about the training right down to the minutiae like PPE and welfare issues.

“All of these things are important if we are to play our part in addressing the skills gap by making the industry as accessible and welcoming as possible in order that we widen the pool of talent that we recruit from.”

Helping women in utilities get hands-on experience

Annie applied for the course because she wants to be a site manager, but felt she needs hands-on experience of the practical side of the work in order to be taken seriously.

She said: “I feel that women in the gas industry have to work incredibly hard to prove themselves and gain respect, purely because it’s such a male-dominated industry.

“I wanted to be a part of this programme because of the exposure it’ll give me to different areas of the business and the knowledge it will allow me to gain that I would never normally have the opportunity, or access to, in my day to day administrative role.”

Supporting all women to engage in the utilities sector

Chris Adair, Training Manager at Northern Gas Networks, said:

“We are proud to support, not just Annie, but all women to engage in our sector. Women working in Utilities make up a small percentage of not just our workforce but across the entire Gas Distribution Network.

“Annie is keen to progress and she is an ambassador for both women and NGN.”

Charlotte added: “My goal by the end of the Women in Utilities programme is to understand not only what the operational teams are doing, but also why.

“Having this knowledge will be really empowering as it’ll not only build my confidence when I’m coordinating projects, but I hope it’ll also help me gain respect from my colleagues.”

Professional accreditations

NICEIC approped assessment centre
CABWI Awarding Body
City & Guilds
Energy & Utility Skills
ILM Approved Centre
IOSH
Lloyds ISO 9001:2015
Achilles UVDB
Water Jetting Association