Tag: schools and education

The apprenticeships of the future

In brief

  • Apprenticeships are widely available at Drax, not just in engineering

  • Hear what our existing apprentices think about the opportunities they’ve taken

  • Discover where to find out more: could you be the next Drax apprentice?

Apprenticeships are changing – once mainly the domain of school leavers entering a trade, they are now a possibility for people at many different career stages, in countless industries.

At Drax, we offer a wide range of apprenticeships across a variety of business areas, from engineering to data science. The scheme covers costs to individuals without affecting employee salaries or benefits, whilst providing sufficient support and protected study time.

“Take the opportunity! We’re very lucky to have the chance to complete apprenticeships while working.”

— Beka Mantle, apprentice

By undertaking the apprenticeship, people can learn a new set of skills to improve their knowledge and expertise, boost their career opportunities and gain invaluable experience.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is made up of learning with a training provider and practical experience on the job.

Apprenticeships can benefit Drax by attracting new talent while also developing existing colleagues and future-proofing our workforce to help achieve our ambition to become carbon negative by 2030.

Apprentice Q&A

The following insights from Drax employees highlight the opportunities that apprenticeships can give them and what they have learnt so far.

Joe Clements

Job title: Technical Engineering Trainee

Apprenticeship: Mechanical Engineering Pathway Continuation

Q: What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

A: It’s put me in positions that I might not have found myself in before, forcing me to learn fast and adapt. It’s also benefiting Drax as I’m constantly learning and developing within my team. On completion, I should be ready to go straight into an engineering role.

Q: What are the challenges?

A: Balancing your work and study, especially as you grow into the role and take on more tasks. However, you’re guaranteed learning hours on a weekly basis.

Lois Cheatle

Job title: Finance Graduate

Apprenticeship: Accountancy and Taxation

Q: Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?

A: Having graduated from university and taken a year out, I wanted to further improve on the skills I’d learnt. An apprenticeship has allowed me to develop these skills both from learning on the job and having technical support from my training provider as I worked my way through my accountancy qualification.

It’s also given me the opportunity to develop soft skills such as communication and building relationships, which is part of the professional development side of the apprenticeship.

Alex Hegarty

Job title: Data Science Analyst

Apprenticeship: Data Science

Q: How was your apprenticeship application process?

A: It was fairly straightforward – Louisa Russell (Early Careers Manager at Drax) helped me with my enrolment. To qualify for the course, I had to complete a quiz to prove I had basic proficiency in programming.

Q: What’s the best thing about doing an apprenticeship?

A: Having experts with extensive knowledge of the subject who you can pester with questions.

Beka Mantle

Job title: 4E Business Lead

Apprenticeship: Improvement Specialist

Q: Have you felt supported? 

A: Very. My line manager is always checking in to see how I’m getting on and offering support, and I have catch ups with the Early Careers team. I also meet my apprenticeship tutor at least bi-weekly, and he’s always there to answer any questions and talk things through. I’m also lucky to have someone else on my team who’s working through the same apprenticeship – it’s great when we need to practise something or bounce ideas off each other.

Q: What would you say to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship? 

A: Take the opportunity! We’re very lucky to have the chance to complete apprenticeships while working, and I’m grateful to have the support of so many people around me while I’m on this journey.

Chris Hughes

Job Title: Seconded to Supplier Relationship Manager

Apprenticeship: Regulatory Compliance

Q: What’s the best thing about it?

A: Making new friends from different sectors, such as councils and environmental health, and gaining an insight into their working lives and how compliance plays its part. It’s also motivating to get continuous positive feedback about my strong coursework and presentations.

Jason Reeve

Job title: Collections Manager – line manager to Chris Hughes and Jessica Leason, Supplier Relationship Manager

Q: How do you manage study commitments?

A: I’ve made sure that both Chris and Jessica have had dedicated study time blocked out in their diaries. In our 1:1s, we’ve discussed progress and looked at the assessment criteria to make sure they’ve been involved with projects giving them valuable experience to support their apprenticeship.

Q: Why is it important to support colleagues doing apprenticeships?

A: It’s vital to develop your team – as a manager, a large part of my success is down to the skills and expertise my team brings to the table. Helping Chris and Jess through their apprenticeship has really aided their personal development, knowledge and skills. I soon started seeing the benefit in terms of what they were bringing to the team, their contribution to the department and their own confidence.

Their continued development through the scheme has helped keep their passion alive for their roles and driven their success.

Go deeper

Find out more about the apprenticeships we offer at Drax, as well as our other career opportunities here.

In a crisis people come first

This crisis will be remembered for many things. Many are not positive, but some are inspiring. Around the world we’ve seen tremendous acts of kindness and witnessed remarkable resilience from people continuing to live, work and to support one another. The actions we are all taking as individuals, businesses and communities will not only help us get through this crisis, they will shape how we emerge from it.

At Drax we are proud of the ongoing role we’re playing in supporting the UK and its essential services, continuing to generate and supply the electricity needed to keep people healthy and the economy running.

It is what we have always done, and it is what we will continue to do.

This is possible because our people have continued to carry out their important work in these uncertain times safely and responsibly. My leadership team in the UK and US must continue to support them, and we must also support the communities they are a part of.

Employees Drax Power Station show their support and appreciation for the heroic efforts of those within the NHS by turning one of its cooling towers blue at 8pm each Thursday

Employees Drax Power Station show their support and appreciation for the heroic efforts of those within the NHS by turning one of its cooling towers blue at 8pm each Thursday

Our communities are at the core of what we do and who we are. They support our business globally and enable us to supply energy to the country. We have a responsibility to do what we can to help them through this crisis.

To do this we have put together a Covid-19 support package totalling more than three quarters of a million pounds that goes beyond just financing to make a positive impact. I’d like to highlight a few of these.

Supporting communities in Great Britain and the US

The Robinson family collect their laptop at Selby Community Primary School

The closures of schools and the need to turn homes into classrooms has been one of the biggest changes for many families. With children now depending on technology and the internet for schooling, there’s a very real chance those without access may fall behind, with a long term negative impact on their education.

We want to ensure no child is left out. So, we have donated £250,000 to buy 853 new laptops, each with three months of pre-paid internet access, and delivered them to schools and colleges local to our sites across the UK.

This has been implemented by Drax, working closely with headteachers. As one of our local heads Ian Clennan told us: “Schools don’t just provide education – they’re a whole support system. Having computers and internet access means pupils can keep in touch with their teachers and classmates more easily too – which is also incredibly important at the moment.”

In the US, we’re donating $30,000 to support hardship funds for the communities where we operate. Our colleagues in Louisiana are playing an active role in the community, and in Amite County, Mississippi, they have helped provide PPE to first responders as well as supporting charities for the families worse affected.

Helping businesses, starting with the most vulnerable

As an energy supplier to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), we must act with compassion and be ready to help those who are most economically exposed to the crisis. To do this, we are launching a number of initiatives to support businesses, starting with some of the most vulnerable.

It’s clear that care homes require extra support at this time. We are offering energy bill relief for more than 170 small care homes situated near our UK operations for the next two months, allowing them to divert funds to their other priorities such as PPE, food or carer accommodation.

But it is also important we understand how difficult a period this is for small businesses of all kinds. Many of our customers are facing financial pressure that was impossible to forecast. To help relieve this, we have agreed deferred payment plans with some of our customers who are unable to pay in full. We have also extended current energy prices for three months for 4,000 customers of Opus Energy who have not been able to secure a new contract during this period.

The impact of this crisis will be long term, so we made a significant, two-year charitable donation to Business Debtline. A dedicated phoneline and webpage will be provided to our small businesses customers, offering free debt advice and helping them to recover for the future.

An engineer looks up at flue gas desulphurisation unit (FGD) at Drax Power Station. The massive pipe would transport flue gas from the Drax boilers to the carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant for CO<sub>2</sub> removal of between 90-95%.

An engineer looks up at flue gas desulphurisation unit (FGD) at Drax Power Station. The massive pipe would transport flue gas from the Drax boilers to the carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant for CO2 removal of between 90-95%.

Change for the future recovery

While there is still uncertainty around how the UK, the US and the world will emerge from the pandemic it is the responsibility of the whole energy industry to show compassion for its customers and to take the actions needed to soften the economic blow that Covid-19 is having across the globe.

The disruption to normal life caused by the pandemic has changed how the country uses electricity overnight. In the coming weeks we will be publishing a more in-depth view from Electric Insights showing exactly what effect this has had and what it might reveal for the future of energy.

No matter what that future holds, however, we will remain committed to enabling a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. This will mean not only supporting our people, our communities and our countries through the coronavirus crisis, but striving for a bright and optimistic future beyond it. A future where people’s immediate health, safety and economic wellbeing are prioritised alongside solutions to another crisis – that of climate change.