Coventry Apprentices at Severn Trent First to Graduate on New Water Apprenticeship Standard

Coventry Apprentices at Severn Trent First to Graduate on New Water Apprenticeship Standard

L-R Joe Pitcher, David Oldershaw and Rory Keylock with Severn Trent CEO Liv Garfield

Four apprentices from Severn Trent Water in Coventry have become the first to qualify under the Level 3 Water Process Technician Standard in England. Ofwat and the Drinking Water Inspectorate are among those who have welcomed this achievement as the energy and utilities sector continues to make strides in graduating apprentices on the new English apprenticeship standards.

Joe Pitcher, Ryan Pumphrey, Rory Keylock and David Oldershaw graduated from the three-year course that combines theoretical study with on-the-job, practical training supported by mentors. All have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be fully competent in the water industry where safe and hygienic practices are imperative.

Joe Pitcher was the first of the newly qualified apprentices to comment: “I’m delighted to not only have been given the opportunity to complete the apprenticeship, but also to be part of the first group to do so and to set the standard in the industry. I have a great sense of pride and achievement and all the hard work has put me in a unique position, being one of only very few to complete this bespoke course.

“I’m hoping that this course will give me what’s required to succeed in other areas in the company, and will also result in me being recognised in the industry and company as a pioneer of the trailblazer programme.”

Ryan Pumfrey added: “Now that I have completed my apprenticeship, I have already secured a full-time position as a technical operator. This has given me so much more responsibility and I really feel part of the company, and feel like I play a vital and crucial role in delivering water to our customers every day. I aim to progress at Severn Trent, covering lots of different areas and roles and I’m very thankful to Severn Trent for allowing me to join the company on this programme and become a full-time employee at this great company.”

Rory Keylock explained: “This apprenticeship programme has already given me the opportunity to work at one of our Water Treatment Works. I’m looking forward to improving all aspects of my training, and increasing my Severn Trent knowledge so I can continue to develop with the company.”

David Oldershaw said: “It really is an honour to be among the first to achieve on the new Standards and to represent Severn Trent for such a prestigious qualification. This will boost my career in many ways and put me in a great position in the future when applying for jobs.”

The Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy* estimates that the water industry will need to fill 63,000 roles by 2025 so investing in high quality apprenticeships and apprentices will provide a valuable route to addressing the skills needs.

John Russell, Senior Director, Strategy and Planning at Ofwat, congratulated the achievers: “Our ‘Resilience in the Round’ document demonstrates the importance of companies ensuring they have the right workforce skills and succession plans to take their organisation forward. This achievement by Severn Trent Water is a demonstration of that thinking in action, and through the sector’s Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service, the sector is seeing the first of the new wave of talent emerge through the new Water Process Technician Trailblazer Standard. This talent, will be at the core of how companies deliver their future services to their customers.”

Milo Purcell, Deputy Chief Inspector at the Drinking Water Inspectorate, added: “The Drinking Water Inspectorate warmly welcomes their personal success and the high technical competence they have demonstrated in water processes. The Trailblazer Standard they passed was fully accredited, tested and then quality assured by the energy & utilities end-point assessment business that Energy & Utility Skills operate, so that graduates from the scheme can be assured that their achievement is well respected and has industry-wide recognition. Congratulations also to Severn Trent Water for their innovative and industry-leading sponsorship of this scheme, which is a positive investment in the future of our industry.”

The Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service (the EUIAS) served as end-point assessor for this cohort and their graduating takes the number of achievers that have gone into the sector past the 220-mark across three apprenticeship standards.

End-point assessment allows apprentices to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours, as defined in the published apprenticeship standard, so that they can complete and achieve their apprenticeship. It is taken by apprentices at the very end of the on-programme phase of training when their employer (and in some cases their training provider) is satisfied that they have met the “gateway” criteria to undertake the assessment.**

Dr Jacqueline Hall, Associate Director of the Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service,*** said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by Severn Trent Water to complete end-point assessments for this cohort of achievers. We commend them all for their dedication to learning, and acknowledge Severn Trent Water’s investment in, and commitment to, delivering high quality apprenticeships which play a vital role in ensuring the future of the sector’s workforce.

“The Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service is the first assessment organisation in the sector to achieve this, so this is an encouraging start and a great achievement, especially since our sector is strategically important to the UK economy. It is important to add that over 2,000 candidates have commenced an apprenticeship within energy and utilities and we look forward to taking them through end-point assessment in the near future.”


* The Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy, was the first-ever coherent strategic plan for the continued delivery of essential energy and utility services to 65 million people every day across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland every day.

Energy and utilities combined account for the greatest share of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (2017/18 – 2020/21). The combined share is 43% (£104.8bn), which is significantly greater than the next largest category – transport at £78.5bn, which is responsible for 29% of 2017/18 – 2020/21 Pipeline.

The Skills Strategy was published in February 2017 by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a collective of 29 leading sector employers that are working together to secure the continual seamless delivery of the wider sector’s services across the UK. The Skills Partnership’s mission is to “ensure a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce provides the essential services that our customers seek and meets the UK’s needs from the energy and utilities infrastructure.”

** An independent organisation must be selected by an employer to carry out the end-point assessment of each apprentice, to ensure apprentices are assessed consistently and comparably. End-point assessment is graded as defined in the published assessment plan. An apprenticeship certificate is only awarded after end-point assessment is successfully completed.

*** The Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service was established in 2014 and is part of the Energy & Utility Skills Group. For details of the other apprenticeships it delivers end-point assessment for, click here.

The Energy & Utility Skills Group is at the forefront of bringing our industry leaders together to identify and address the skills challenges our sector faces. It provides membership, assurance and skills solutions to help employers attract, develop and retain a sustainable skilled workforce to ensure the seamless delivery of its essential services. It collaborates with employers to support their workforce needs and sector-wide workforce mobility. Energy & Utility Skills was a driving force behind the creation of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership.