Belfast Telegraph

New jobs in pipeline as NIW announces apprenticeship drive

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland Water has announced it is taking 10 new apprentices as our campaign to encourage companies to take on apprentices continues.

The government-owned company is the sole provider of water, waste water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland. Apprentices will play their part in supplying 625 million litres of clean water to nearly 1.7 million people in the province while treating 134 million litres of waste water.

David Moore, head of organisational development at the company - which employs 1,350 people in total - said: "This will be our third year running an apprenticeship programme. There were a variety of drivers in why we decided to set one up.

"From a workforce planning point of view, we have an ageing frontline operative workforce which we clearly have to plan to replace.

"We also need to think about how we recruit and develop our future managers and leaders - several of the apprentices who finished last summer have already been promoted.

"It also gives us the opportunity to upskill the current workforce because at the same time as recruiting 10 new recruits we also recruit 10 existing employees to join them on the programme. In our organisation, 60% of frontline operatives would have an NVQ.

"We want the other 40% to have a qualification that demonstrates we have a competent workforce."

He said NI Water had a strong rate of staff retention. "We have a very low turnover of frontline operative, and almost all our apprentices come through and stay with the company. In fact, the only one who has left left because he decided to move to Australia."

Apprentices were divided between the waste water side of the business and the water distribution side. Four of the company's current apprentices are involved in waste water and the other six are in water distribution.

Apprentices will work towards a City and Guilds technical certificate in water operations and an NVQ level 2 in their relevant discipline.

He said the apprenticeship programme was open to anyone and successful candidates in the past had been aged anywhere between their early twenties and forties.

He added that the last intake included one woman, an archaeology graduate who has since secured promotion in the company.