Drax delivers virtual work experience to boost employability during Covid crisis

Employees at Britain’s biggest power station have teamed up with educational charity Teach First to ensure that students don’t miss out on valuable work experience during the Covid crisis.

  • Drax Group has offered students a virtual insight into the world of work as part of the energy company’s continued support for STEM education, supporting its efforts to increase social mobility for one million people.
  • The virtual work experience programme ran online, during the school holidays providing students with an insight into working in the energy sector.

Drax Power Station usually hosts dozens of school pupils during its work experience programmes each year, as well as thousands of visitors from schools and colleges who enjoy free educational tours.

However, during the Covid crisis all educational visits to the site have had to stop, to reduce Covid risks and protect Drax’s keyworkers, who operate its power stations and keep the lights on for millions of homes and businesses across England and Scotland.

To ensure they’re not missing out on the valuable insights they gain from work experience programmes, the energy company put together a four-day online programme for disadvantaged students from schools across England.

It has plans to roll the virtual work experience programme out nationally, supporting the company’s Mobilising a Million initiative, which aims to increase social mobility by creating opportunities to support education and improve employability, ensuring the country has the skilled workforce needed to support a post-covid, green economic recovery.

Drax Group’s Head of Sustainable Business, Vicky Bullivant, said:

“We work closely with schools in our communities to inspire children from all backgrounds to study STEM subjects, so the next generation has the education and skills needed to support businesses like ours as we continue to develop and grow.

“With students unable to visit our sites during the Covid crisis, it’s essential they don’t miss out on the opportunities businesses like Drax would usually provide.

“Virtual Work Experience builds on the work we’ve already done to provide laptops, free internet access and virtual tours of the power station to ensure no students are left behind in their studies during the lockdown.”

Students who applied to take part in Drax’s virtual work experience programme could choose from four different business streams: Engineering, Business Support, IT and Project Management & Finance.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said:

“Giving young people the chance to gain a first glimpse into the workplace is vital to inspire their career goals and open their eyes to the wide range of opportunities available to them.

“It’s fantastic to see Drax offering these brilliant opportunities.”

Drax partnered with Teach First to deliver its virtual work experience programme – an educational charity which aims to build a fair education for all by tackling inequality in the sector.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First said:

“Even before the pandemic hit, the poorest pupils were too often left behind. Their odds of succeeding at school and in the working world are now even tougher as a result of Covid-19. Work experience is a vital opportunity for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain the skills and connections they need to succeed. We’re grateful to businesses like Drax for helping to make sure that every child can maximise their potential.”

Participants in Drax’s virtual work experience programme learnt about the energy company, focusing on developing employability skills and learning about their business area through conversations with employees and targeted projects. They also had the opportunity to ask members of Drax’s executive committee about their careers during a Q&A session.

Engineering student Tahmid Md said:

“This was a great week and I’ve learnt a lot from the experience. The CV building and interview sessions were especially helpful, and I really enjoyed the engineering projects I took part in.”

This year’s Covid lockdown resulted in many students being home schooled for months, so the Drax virtual work experience programme took place during the Easter Holidays, so that participants did not miss any more vital classroom time during the school term.

Drax plans to host two more virtual work experience programmes during the summer and October school holidays.


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Editor’s Notes

When Covid restrictions ease and it is safe to do so, Drax intends to resume its usual work experience programme on site, but it will continue to host a virtual programme online as well.

This will enable more students to participate from across England, who may previously have found it difficult to take part, due to barriers preventing their attendance, such as geography, opportunity and economic factors.

Drax announced its Mobilising a Million initiative earlier this year, when it published its Opportunity Action Plan in partnership with the Social Mobility Pledge led by former Education Secretary, the Rt Hon Justine Greening.

Drax is committed to supporting the communities local to its operations. It has invested more than £750,000 to support its customers and local communities during the Covid-19 crisis including donating 850 laptops to schools and colleges across the country, helping to make sure children without access to computers or the internet at home, were not left behind in their studies during the Covid crisis.

About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology.

Its 3,400 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

Pellet production and supply:

Drax owns and has interests in 17 pellet mills in the US South and Western Canada which have the capacity to manufacture 4.9 million tonnes of compressed wood pellets (biomass) a year. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.


Through its two B2B energy supply brands, Haven Power and Opus Energy, Drax supplies energy to 250,000 businesses across Britain.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity with a mission to build a fair education for all. Through a range of school leadership programmes the charity supports teachers, leaders and schools facing the biggest challenges, serving the most disadvantaged communities.

The charity has now recruited over 18,000 teachers and leaders, has over 85 head teachers in their alumni and has supported over a million pupils.

Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; more than half stay on for a third year. Over 62% of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching. The charity supports whole leadership teams through Leading Together. Develops individuals to become effective leaders through Middle Leader, Senior Leader and Headship programmes that include a National Professional Qualification. And provides Career Leader training to develop a long-term, school-wide careers strategy to improve student opportunities after school.

Teach First currently operates in Wales and in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coast, South West and the East of England.