Meanwhile, an ageing workforce means workers with the crucial knowledge to keep the country functioning are retiring.
This dual drain on the nation’s talent pool is creating a skills drought within the engineering, technology and utilities sectors, and it is estimated the power, gas, water and waste management industries will need 200,000 new recruits within the next eight years.
The crisis is currently of great concern in the gas industry where specialist provider Develop Training is pioneering a novel solution.
As one of the UK’s leading training and development specialists, Develop Training believes one of the ways to attract young people into the industry is to provide young trainers. Enter 23-year-old Senior Training Consultant Darren Robson, one of a number of younger trainers on the Develop workforce whose age is helping him connect with apprentices and other young people from the utilities industry who are attending the company’s courses across its five nationwide training centres.
After completing a gas and installation maintenance training course and working as a Gas Engineer for three years, Darren had his sights set on a spot in the teaching limelight. He had always wanted to help other people so when Develop Training offered him the opportunity to become a trainer, he leapt at it.
Darren has been sharing his skills with apprentices for just shy of two years and believes young trainers could hold the key to re-igniting the UK utilities sector.
Darren said: “I think a lot of the apprentices I teach aren’t familiar with seeing such a young trainer, so it breaks the habit and gets more of them involved as they feel I am on their level.
“As my apprenticeship is not in the distant past, I can relate to apprentices, this enables me to keep the course engaging, thus aiding the learning process by creating a safe environment whereby everyone feels they can participate”
Although Darren thinks the industry needs more young trainers, he believes that shouldn’t be at the expense of experience or diversity: “I think all training and development companies should employ a wide variety of trainers as this will encourage a wider variety of apprentices, which will in turn make for a much stronger and more diverse workforce. I’m very fortunate that Develop Training have invested in me, in the sense of up-skilling me with a range of qualifications such as Internal Verification and Assessing. The team I’m in is ideal as it includes people with a range of ages and experiences who all bring something to the table.”
Chris Wood, Chief Executive Officer at Develop Training, said: “We are going to need more pioneering initiatives such as this to show young adults that a career in the utilities sector is an attractive option.”
Develop Training is also working with clients to set up apprenticeship programmes, develop cross-skilling opportunities to the gas sector from other industries such as water, and encourage retiring workers to become trainers.