Jazz is the Talent Acquisition Manager at UK Power Networks and is keen to attract more talent to the energy and utilities sector. Find out what qualities she looks for when recruiting and how she wants to tackle the challenges the industry is facing.
What type of qualities do you look for in candidates as a Talent Acquisition Manager?
The qualities I seek as a Talent Acquisition Manager vary from job to job, depending on the nature of the position. However there are some skills which are always a prerequisite such as; communication, time-management, a team player, integrity and a strong work ethic are all skills and values that I place great emphasis on. Flexibility is also key - working within such a fast paced, dynamic environment requires a high degree of flexibility among staff at all levels. It would be hard to quantify flexibility but I guess to me it would be someone willing to go above and beyond when required.
As well as any relevant qualifications and/or experience for the role, we always link our recruitment and selection process to our core values - these being integrity, continuous improvement, diversity & inclusiveness, respect, responsibility and unity. All our employees should live and breathe these and we are fortunate to have an executive management team who really promote and live these values. Our commitment to our values are further encapsulated throughout our recruitment process.
What services does the UK Power Networks provide for the public?
UK Power Networks is the country’s biggest electricity distributor, making sure the lights stay on for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and the East of England regardless of who they pay their bill to. The company invests more than £500 million in its electricity networks every year, offers extra help to vulnerable customers at times of need, and is undertaking trials to ensure that electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future. It also moves cables and connects new electricity supplies.
"Our overall strategy aims to break down any perceived barriers or misconceptions about working in this sector!"
Is the sector becoming more diverse, employing people of all backgrounds?
Diversity and inclusiveness are two of UK Power Networks’ core values and we are highly-committed to this. We recently gained National Equality Standard accreditation (NES), a diversity and equality endorsement backed by Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Historically, the engineering sector has always suffered in relation to diversity, particularly from an ethnicity, gender and age perspective. This is mainly to do with both a lack of understanding and awareness of the industry and the opportunities available.
What kind of opportunities are there to help develop employees’ skills and expertise?
Our employees’ growth and development on both a personal and professional level are always at the forefront of our thinking when designing learning and development strategies. Every year, we invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in our supported studies scheme to ensure that our employees are developing on all levels. We acknowledge that as an employer we have a duty of care to ensure that we are getting the best out of our employees and that they are also getting the best out of themselves. We consistently endeavour to offer job enrichment opportunities to our workforce. All individuals are encouraged to develop themselves on an ongoing basis. Essentially, this is the main purpose of our supported studies programme.
In addition, we offer our employees the chance to embark upon our ‘mentoring’ programme which is open to all staff members and it is one which has received an abundance of positive feedback, which suggests that they are feeling more empowered. Our ‘leadership programme’ acts as a platform for some of our most ambitious, talented employees and ultimately is designed to fast track them to reaching Senior Management Team level positions within the business. This has been highly successful and from an employee engagement standpoint has led to employees feeling more valued.
As a business, we continually endeavour to strike the balance between both our employees personal and professional development and results from our employee engagement suggest we have done well in achieving this.
"Various studies have heavily indicated that having a diverse team (including gender, race, age ethnicity etc.) can not only solve problems more quickly but are also more creative."
What are some of the biggest issues the industry face?
Some of the key challenges are: 1) Shortage of engineering skills – the total number of suitably qualified engineers is lower that what it needs to be in order to meet the demand of the future. We will need to work on encouraging engineering as career option, including educating and inspiring children as young as primary school age to focus on STEM subjects. 2) Lack of female engineers - the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe and this is a problem, and not just in terms of diversity and equality. Various studies have heavily indicated that having a diverse team (including gender, race, age ethnicity etc.) can not only solve problems more quickly but are also more creative. 3) Changing Demographics – the workforce as whole today and that of tomorrow is likely to be less loyal than what we have experienced in the industry in the past. Long gone are the days of employees staying with a company for 10, 20 or 30 years. People are no longer necessarily tied to the same location and a far more mobile than before. In addition, skills are becoming more transferable globally which is leading to loss of talent across various sectors as well as locations.
We have to start recognising these challenges and continue to work together to overcome these by developing the appropriate strategies.
How do you attract young people into your profession?
We attract young people into our profession in a number of ways but for us, our main success comes from high quality, face-to-face interactions.
Our careers fair stands have to be interesting and eye-catching and we have to make sure we have the right members of staff there with us on the day. Young people often want to hear about career opportunities from other young people – so we try our best to ensure we have some of our apprentices with us at these events whenever we can. We want young people to be able to speak to one of our colleagues and be able to relate, and ultimately feel that a career in engineering is something they can genuinely aspire to. Our overall strategy aims to break down any perceived barriers or misconceptions about working in this sector so young people can understand there is a place for everyone in engineering – you just have to find your niche!