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Career Options in Energy & Utilities: School Leaver

What is the industry about?

What would happen if homes around the country stopped getting electricity or clean water in sewers? Lots of carnage, that’s what would happen! The utilities (electricity, gas, water and sewers) are the life blood of the entire country. If we didn’t have the utilities, things would get pretty bad, pretty quickly (everyone would smell pretty gross, for starters). People who work in this industry are therefore pretty important.

The energy side of things relates to being green and finding out new ways to recycle and save energy. If these are successful experiments, you can then help others such as the government and businesses teach people about being energy efficient.

So if you’re keen on science and reckon you could make a difference, this is the industry for you.

What opportunities are available to me?

  • Apprenticeship
  • School leaver programme
  • Further and higher education.

There are plenty of opportunities to get into this industry straight after breezing through your GCSEs. If you fancy yourself as a gas installation engineer, then an Apprenticeship with the likes of British Gas or nPower could be for you. Alternatively, you could work for an energy company and go around the country providing customers with information about their new equipment and how it will make their bills cheaper and lifestyles greener.

If you fancy yourself working behind-the-scenes rather than on the front-line, you could undertake a school leaver programme in customer service or business administration. School leaver programmes come in all shapes and sizes and you could even get yourself on a sponsored degree programme, meaning that you can enjoy the experience of university without worrying about the cost.

To expand your options of getting into the energy and utilities sector, further and higher education is also an option. If you wanted to develop new technologies or come up with a more effective way to recycle, you will need to get yourself a degree based on environmental science, renewable energy or earth sciences. Degrees could also include a placement year, allowing you to take up the opportunity to have a year working full-time in the energy and utilities industry and building upon your experience.

Setting the school leaver record straight

There’s always one know-it-all at school who spouts on about how Apprenticeships don’t pay very well and are useless compared to A Levels and a university degree. Well, let us set the record straight. This is an industry that is accessible from any age and, depending on the work you do, you could earn up to £30,000 on the completion of your Apprenticeship. That’s not too shabby in our opinion.

The university route is recommend to those who want to go on to research and develop new energy technologies. The science that you’re taught at school is not quite advanced enough for you to be able to follow this career path as soon as you finish school. If you want to go on to university, you’ll need to take maths and science at A Level.

Formal education: should I stay or should I go?

As mentioned, you can get into the energy and utilities industry at any level, but the type of work you can do may be restricted if you go in straight after your GCSEs. However, if this is what you want to do, don’t let anybody stop you. An Apprenticeship as a field technician or customer service provider carries great prospects will always be an in-demand job.

If you want to follow a career in the industry that is more focussed on the research and application of science, then A Levels and the university route is necessary. This will allow you to investigate ground breaking and exact areas of science and develop the research and analytical skills necessary to come up with new and innovative ideas. 

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