I am an Electrical Fitter working on high voltage substation refurbishments and new builds. I work with voltages of between 11kv and 132kv all over East Anglia. I maintain or replace the network equipment like circuit breakers, buzz bars, overhead lines and disconnectors.
Why is your role important?
Much of the electricity transmission network is now coming to the age where infrastructure and kit which was installed 50 years ago needs to be replaced to keep supply reliable. Also, because of new housing developments and, like here in Cambridge, the construction of a new train station, there is much more demand on the electricity network. Our work makes sure there is enough power to go around!
Which parts of the job do you enjoy most/ find most rewarding?
I really like being on site outside using my hands and getting work done. We work in teams on jobs like panel wiring and earthing which is reassuring for speed and safety. Seeing a large project reach completion is a really good feeling knowing that your work has been an important factor in it.
"As a STEM Ambassador I really want to let school students know about the opportunities for a career in utilities and hopefully my experiences can show what possibilities there are."
What path did you use to get the position you hold today?
I have just completed my three year apprenticeship as an Electrical Fitter. There were four of us recruited at the same time and we have worked then studied in four week blocks at college to learn the trade.
What did you do before?
When I left school I worked soldering circuit boards on a production line. The company supplied Rolls Royce but it wasn’t enough of a challenge and I couldn’t see where I would end up.
Has it met or exceeded your expectations?
This role has definitely given me a real variety of work which is important as it keeps it interesting and challenging. I’ve received training to give me a specialist qualification in a field which I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. This year I am going to start an HNC in Electrical Power Engineering which will increase my knowledge further and make me a specialist in my field. As a STEM Ambassador I really want to let school students know about the opportunities for a career in utilities and hopefully my experiences can show what possibilities there are.
What advice would you give to the people reading this article who want to work in a similar field?
I would say try an apprenticeship. It will open a lot of doors for you to work in the utilities industry and you can earn while you are getting qualified. I knew university wasn’t for me but I am now starting a university course and have three years’ of industry experience behind me already.
There will always be a constant demand for qualified people in the utilities industry. I want to become a Senior Authorised Person or Commissioning Engineer, literally the person that flicks the switch when a substation is re-energised. It will mean more qualifications and lots more experience but it’s a very responsible role and I’m working towards it.