The youngsters, part of an intake of 21, were taken on by gas firm United Utilities which operates the region’s 37,000km network of gas mains on behalf of Northern Gas Networks, the company which owns it. United Utilities employs around 1,100 staff in the gas network at depots throughout Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East.
The apprentices have all completed individual courses depending on their choice of work within the gas industry. They will specialise in a number of disciplines including gas emergency work, gas mains replacement and the maintenance of vital equipment such as pressure regulators and gasholders. During the apprenticeship period, practical work was supplemented with classroom theory leading to either NVQ level 3 in gas network engineering or an HNC.
Graduated Apprentice Adam Lister, who will be based at Pottery Fields House in Leeds is looking forward to joining his team mates out on the patch. “I’m really excited at the prospect of a good career in the gas industry, “he said. “I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to an exciting and busy career with United Utilities.”
Indeed, Adam and his colleagues will be very busy as United Utilities replace around 550km of gas mains every year, pipe gas to 2.4 million homes and businesses and runs the gas emergency service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Head of Operations John Suddes, who also started his gas career as an apprentice was delighted with the progress the graduates had made. “It’s a very big responsibility working for the first time without direct supervision, but the apprentices have been well trained and know that help is always available twenty four hours a day,” he said. “They are going forward with a healthy workload, with an excellent team alongside them, working in a good, safe manner. I wish them well, after all the hard work they have put in, they deserve it.”