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Occupations

The energy and utilities sector workforce is very similar in occupational structure to that of the whole UK workforce, with the exception of plant and machine operatives which are considerably over-represented. There are, however, substantial industry variations.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement 2006


Occupational data by industry

Power

The power industry employs more professional, skilled trades and sales and customer service occupations than either the UK or energy and utilities sector averages. 13% of the workforce is employed in operative and elementary occupations, compared to 23% of the entire UK workforce.

There are careers in two specific areas of power:

  • Generation – the operation and maintenance of power station apparatus
  • Distribution & Transmission – the installation and maintenance of the network that supplies power from power stations to homes, industry and businesses.

Many of the jobs in the power industry are highly skilled and in demand in a wide range of engineering, science and technology based industries. There is an increasing need for skilled people to work in UK engineering and technology businesses, so that the UK can compete successfully in the world economy. A handout is available outlining pathways, progression and required training, click here.

Gas downstream

Downstream gas is regarded as a single nominal occupation, albeit individuals may have different specialisms. All gas operatives must be CORGI registered to work in this field.

Gas upstream

One-quarter of the gas (upstream) workforce is employed in a skilled trade – 12% higher than the UK average. This industry also employs a far greater proportion of people in administration, secretarial, sales and customer service occupations than both the energy and utilities sector and UK averages. Just one in ten people are employed in operative/elementary occupations. The 4 main occupations in the network area of the industry are:

  • Operatives – Assistant to a Team Leader (under instruction)
  • Team Leader Main Layer – Installing and maintaining main gas pipe work.
  • Team Leader Service Layer – Installing and maintaining pipe work from a main gas pipe to the meter.
  • Technician – Controls resources and involved with complex technical jobs

Waste management

The occupational profile of this industry is concentrated in the lower skilled occupations; 59% of this workforce is employed in operative/elementary occupations (23% UK average). This reflects not only the skills requirements of the majority of activities undertaken within the industry, but also the significant number of drivers that are employed in the industry (around 30%).

Less than 40% of the workforce is employed within occupations that normally require a Level 3 qualification, compared to the UK average of 60%. This is a reflection of the nature of the activities currently undertaken by the industry.

This situation is likely to change over the coming years as less waste is sent to landfill and more goes through a process resulting in value being recovered. These are activities that are likely to demand a higher level of skill from the industry’s future workforce.

Water

The water industry employs proportionately more professionals, associate professional/technical and plant and machine operative occupations than either the energy and utilities sector average or UK average. This is a reflection of the nature of the activities undertaken by the industry, particularly in terms of the processes that are carried out in order to treat and transport water.

There is an increasing need for skilled people to work in UK engineering and technology businesses in order for the UK to compete successfully in the world economy.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stage 1 2006 and Energy & Utility Skills LMI report March 2010

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Occupational changes

There is relatively small occupational employment change projected for the energy and utilities sector for the period until 2014. In common with the UK workforce, the energy and utilities sector job share for managers and senior officials is expected to increase slightly, whereas the job shares for both administrative, clerical and secretarial workers and those in the elementary occupations are projected to decline.

However, whilst the energy and utilities sector is expected to show small increases for both the skilled trade occupations and transport and machine operatives, both these groups are projected to decline nationally. The other occupational groups are expected to remain stable in the energy and utilities sector.

These statistics relate to the core companies in the sector, part of this reduction relates to activities being out-sourced to third-party contractors.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stage 1 2006

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Staff turnover

Within the power, gas and water industries, half of the current workforce has been recruited within the last five to seven years, while within waste management half the workforce was recruited between two and three years ago. This increased recruitment activity, in the waste management industry, is probably the result of the expansion in the number of jobs across both the recycling and waste disposal sub-sectors over recent years. It is also a reflection of the industry’s difficulty in retaining staff, particularly in the low-skilled occupations.

Over 40% of the power and water industry employees have been with their current employer for more than ten years. This compares to just 18% in waste management; nearly all professional employees have been recruited within the last ten years.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stage 1 2006

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Occupational replacement demand

The need to replace members of the current energy and utilities workforce who retire or leave the sector means that there will be a significant replacement demand during the period 2004-2014. Across all occupations replacement demand is forecast to total 150,000.

Replacement demand will be greatest for skilled trades occupations, where there is a forecast need of 45,000 workers, followed by managers where 20,000 new recruits will be needed. administration, clerical and secretarial roles and transport and machine operative occupations are also forecast to generate replacement demand of 18,000 and 17,000 respectively.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stage 1 2006

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Salaries

There are significant differences in the wage rates between the highest (managers) and lowest (clerical and secretarial) paid employees in the energy and utilities sector. In the sector, managers earn an average of £37,750 per annum, whereas clerical and secretarial staff earn £20,436 per annum.

Evidence provided by the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB) highlights the potential significant return an individual can make in this sector from investing in their skills. According to the GRB a typical graduate starting salary within the energy and utilities sector is somewhere between £15,000 and £23,000, and upon completion of training, this can rise to between £30,000 and £48,000.

Power

Starting salaries for young people and graduates entering the power industry range from £16,000 to £25,000. Upon completion of training these salaries can increase to between £26,000 and £40,000, depending upon the occupation.

Average basic salaries (excluding overtime and bonuses) for a selection of occupations found in the power industry include:

  • Electrical Engineer: £42,000
  • Civil Engineer: £38,000
  • Design Engineer: £37,000
  • Mechanical Engineer: £35,000
  • Overhead Linesworker: £33,000
  • Electrical/Engineering Technician: £30,000
  • Cable Jointer: £24,000
  • Meter Fixer: £21,000

Salaries can vary between employers and locations within the UK.

Gas

Starting salaries for young people and graduates entering the gas industry range from £16,000 to £25,000. Upon completion of training these salaries can increase to between £26,000 and £40,000, depending upon the occupation.

Average basic salaries (excluding overtime and bonuses) for a selection of occupations found in the gas industry include:

  • Civil Engineer: £38,000
  • Commercial Gas Engineer: £30,000
  • Pipe Fitters: £33,000
  • Emergency Services Engineer: £30,000
  • Mains Layer: £30,000
  • Operatives: £24,000

Salaries can vary between employers and locations within the UK.

Waste Management

Starting salaries for people entering the waste management industry range from £16,000 to £25,000. Graduates entering a company’s graduate programme can start on as much as £21,000. Upon completion of training these salaries can increase to between £26,000 and £35,000, depending upon the occupation.

Average basic salaries (excluding overtime and bonuses) for a selection of occupations found in the waste management industry include:

  • Recycling/Refuse Disposal Manager: £31,000
  • Environmental Engineer: £30,000
  • Energy from Waste Engineer: £30,000
  • Assistant Waste Manager: £29,000
  • Recycling Officer: £28,000
  • Landfill Gas Technician: £20,000-25,000
  • Materials Buyer: £18,000
  • Refuse Operatives: £18,000
  • Energy from Waste Plant Operator: £15,000

Salaries can vary between employers and locations within the UK.

Water

Starting salaries for young people and graduates entering the water industry range from £16,000 to £25,000. Upon completion of training these salaries can increase to between £26,000 and £40,000, depending upon the occupation.

Average basic salaries (excluding overtime and bonuses) for a selection of occupations found in the water industry include:

  • Civil Engineer: £38,000
  • Mechanical Engineer: £35,000

Salaries can vary between employers and locations within the UK.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stage 1 2006 and Energy & Utility Skills LMI report March 2010

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Occupational roles and sources of information

The Energy & Utility Skills website has a dedicated careers area with occupational profiles, career progression, Apprenticeships, case studies and links to employers in the sector.

The National Careers Service website also has detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the sector including:

These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

Careersbox has films of those working in the energy and utilities sector, including:

  • Apprenticeships in national utilities companies
  • Technical engineer
  • Installation engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Instrument craftsman
  • Electrical craftsman
  • Operations technician
  • Assets & facilities engineer

Films are from those already working in the sector giving an insight into what it is like and what their role involves.

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