Apprenticeship award win for United Utilities

Apprenticeship award win for United Utilities

North West based water company United Utilities is celebrating after scooping a gong at the prestigious North West National Apprenticeship Awards 2020.

The company came up trumps winning Macro Employer of the Year, for employers with 5,000 or more employees.

In the wake of Covid-19, United Utilities was recognised for its outstanding work to help its current apprentices navigate through these uncertain times, whilst creating opportunities for new recruits.

Guest at the virtual event heard how the company continues to have no barriers when it comes to getting to the top, with the company using its apprentice scheme as a critical tool to ensure it has the right people and skills for the future. 

Speaking at the virtual ceremony, Jacqui Kawczak, apprentice and graduate delivery manager at United Utilities said: “if there is any year that I would want to win this award it would be 2020. To be honoured with this accolade during such difficult times is something quite remarkable, and testimony to the hard work and dedication of the teams involved and the commitment from the business at senior and director level to our apprenticeship programme.”

With apprentices being one group across the country bearing the brunt of the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, with many furloughed or even being thrown off their schemes, United Utilities is bucking the trend as they continue to invest in their apprenticeships, creating 62 new opportunities this year.

Head of HR at United Utilities Louise Higgins said: “Supporting our employees and apprentices through these difficult times has been at the forefront of our thinking. Many of our apprentices in their final year who had assessments and exams to complete when the country went into the first national lockdown, feared their future career prospects within the company would be severely delayed”.

“Whilst all exams and further learning stopped or was postponed, we worked around the clock with the Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service, to provide a solution using technology and live streaming to ensure our final year apprentices completed their learning without any delays; helping to create loyal apprentices who build successful careers with them”.  

This innovative approach meant United Utilities was the only company in the utility sector to live stream external assessments, ensuring 26 apprentices moved into roles within the company to help deliver a key service to 7 million customers across the North West. 

“More than ever, levelling up skills is critical and we are proud to be able to continue to offer opportunities to a diverse range of people. We will continue to invest in our apprenticeships and we will lead the way in innovation to address the impact of the current pandemic to ensure our apprentices are not disadvantaged”, added Louise. 

Since 2014 United Utilities apprentice recruitment has grown by 77%, with 96% of apprentices moving into substantive roles across the business on completion of their scheme. 

The National Apprenticeship Awards are England’s biggest apprenticeship awards ceremony.

Now in their 17th year, the awards have grown from strength to strength. Nine regional ceremonies and one national final are taking place this year, all to honour the country’s best apprentices, champions and employers.

United Utilities will now progress to represent the North West at the National Final on 25 November 2020, which will celebrate employers from across the country that are committed to developing their workforce through apprenticeships.

A copy of the original article can be found on United Utilities’ website.