Belfast Telegraph

Jobs initiative is adding spark to apprenticeships

By Amanda Poole

Northern Ireland Electricity says that the Belfast Telegraph's 100 Jobs in 100 Days campaign is an excellent way to highlight the importance of training apprentices.

NIE Human Resources Director Gordon Parkes explained that the company has been offering apprenticeships for over 40 years.

"We very much welcome the Belfast Telegraph's campaign to promote and ultimately create more apprenticeships which are fundamental to the future success of the Northern Ireland economy," he said.

"The nature of the work that NIE carries out on the electricity network is quite unique, highly specialised and challenging, so we firmly believe that the best way to develop highly skilled, motivated and enthusiastic future employees is through our targeted and focused apprentice programme.

Mr Parkes said that NIE prides itself on the fact that it creates real jobs with real opportunities for all apprentices after successful completion of the programme.

"In fact, many of our existing senior managers joined NIE through the apprenticeship scheme," he added. "So it provides apprentices with a tremendous platform from which to launch their careers."

Mel Percy, an NIE training engineer, started his apprenticeship back in 1976 and he now trains a new generation of apprentices.

"Every year I'm amazed at the talent of the new apprentices and it's been refreshing to see more and more females coming through the programme," he said.

"The work that we do on the electricity network is very specialised and the apprenticeship is a great opportunity for people to learn these skills as well as earning a highly recognised qualification.

"I feel lucky to be working on the apprenticeship programme where I get to see the talent coming through and watch the new apprentices grow."

Two such people are Joanna Barclay, an overhead lines/tree cutter apprentice from Belfast and Sean McCluskey from Craigavon, a trainee meter operative apprentice.

Joanna said: "If you like hands-on training then you will enjoy an apprenticeship."

And Sean said he would recommend an apprenticeship.

He added: "NIE has invested a lot of time and resources into the apprenticeship programme and I enjoy the variety it offers as I'm gaining the academic electrical knowledge which I then get to practise on site."

The application process for NIE's 2012 apprenticeship programme is now closed but will reopen again in early 2013.

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