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Innovative Training Programme Aims To ‘Skill Up’ Utilities Sector

Construction Industry Training Board Northern Ireland (CITB NI) in partnership with  Department for the Economy (DfE),  NIE Networks and Kier have announced the  Joint Utilities Entry Level Programme.  An innovative training programme aimed at providing entry level training to the utilities sector, which will support the sector to develop the workforce required to deliver the infrastructure to drive a net zero economy.

The Joint Utilities Entry Level Programme will ensure Northern Ireland has a sufficient pool of trained and competent asset installation operatives for those subcontractors who provide asset installation services to Electricity, Gas, Water and Telecoms providers.

The 22-week programme will cover practical and theoretical training recommended by the utility employers with both ‘on site’ (80 days) and ‘off site’ (30 days) aspects included. It will also equip programme participants with the skills and knowledge to enable them to work across all four main utility sectors as well as industry recognised certification and registration cards (CSR).

The programme is free to paid employees of relevant businesses and is most suited to either new recruits or existing operatives who do not have formal training and certification.

Barry Neilson OBE, CITB NI Chief Executive said: “This is an exciting, innovative and fully funded programme working with key industry partners to provide entry level training to the utilities sector. The aim of the programme is to develop a flexible workforce that is competent and confident to deliver asset installation across all utility providers, which will further help the industry build the skills of the workforce necessary to create the infrastructure crucial for advancing a net zero economy.”

Graeme Wilkinson, Head of Skills at DfE, explained: “This new training programme being delivered by CITB NI algins well with the Department for the Economy’s 10x Economic Vision and Skills Strategy, including the Green Skills agenda. We want to see more people learning the skills needed to ensure Northern Ireland is well positioned to maximise the opportunities available as we move towards net zero. I encourage everyone who is eligible and interested in this exciting field of work to access this training and gain industry-recognised qualifications and certification.”

Gordon Parkes, Executive Director People and Culture NIE Networks, who has been a primary driver of this initiative added: “Achieving Net Zero by 2050 and green energy skills requirements presents both a significant challenge and opportunity that no one employer in the sector can deal with on their own. Labour market demographics for NI over the next 10 years highlight a reducing labour pool at the very time when 28,000 new jobs will be created in this important growth sector. We need strong collaboration by all employers in the sector supported by DfE, CITB NI and the Education Sector to develop more exciting programmes like this in addition to a range of apprenticeships and Higher Level Apprenticeships which will lead to interesting, secure, well paid and highly skilled jobs.”

Cormac O’Donnell, Operations Director for Kier Natural Resources, Nuclear & Networks said: “We are proud to be involved in this innovative approach to deliver practical training and create opportunities for those wanting to work in our sector. As one of the UK’s leading infrastructure services providers, Kier is committed to being at the forefront of training our sector’s next generation of professionals. This programme will support their progression, helping us to train the workforce who will be critical to delivering a net zero economy.” 

Programme numbers are limited, to book a place contact: Raymond.McMenemy@nienetworks.co.uk, Greg.Price@kier.co.uk, ronan.smith@niwater.com

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