Budding gas engineers looking for an apprenticeship in Staffordshire are in luck as hundreds of roles become available.
British Gas has announced a recruitment drive for more than 400 Smart Energy apprentices in the West Midlands over the next decade, with the aim that around a third of the vacancies will be filled by the end of next year.
Bosses have said that half of the applicants will be made up of women as the company pushes to improve gender diversity and better reflect the customers it serves.
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The announcement comes as British Gas continues to support the UK economy in providing the 'green skills' required to help lead the electric vehicle revolution and reach Net Zero by 2050, a spokesman said.
The apprentices from the West Midlands will receive the technical skills training and the knowledge they need for the job at one of the British Gas training academies in Dartford, Hamilton, Thatcham and Leicester. Once qualified as Smart Energy experts they will then be upskilled to install and maintain carbon-efficient technologies, including electric vehicle charging points, heat pumps, hydrogen boilers, and to provide essential energy efficiency advice to customers.
Before becoming an apprentice at British Gas, 28-year-old Lewis Solway said that he found his Sixth Form environment was not for him – he was ready for work.
A decade later and Lewis is the proud winner of the ‘UK Field Operations Safety Assurance Engineer of the Year’ award and even spent 12 months back at the Leicester academy providing the training for the next generation of engineering apprentices.
He said: "When I was younger, my grandpa owned his own air conditioning company and I loved spending time with him installing the systems or visiting his team in their offices. When I noticed that British Gas was advertising for an apprenticeship in my local area, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
"Ten years after walking through to doors at the Leicester Academy as an apprentice myself, I now feel incredibly proud of the journey I've gone on, from helping train new apprentices, ensuring our teams are working safely and more recently putting all of that experience to good use by helping our customers reduce their impact on the environment.
"It's a career that keeps me excited every day."
Chris O'Shea, CEO at Centrica, said: "We're creating thousands of highly-skilled and well-paid British jobs to ensure that we have a workforce that can help to make the transition to low carbon both hassle-free and affordable for our customers, and to support the Government's ambitious targets to make net-zero a reality.
"It's important that we address the low representation of women who currently work in STEM roles, which is why we have a targeted campaign to attract and retain more female recruits. Together, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable future that supports our communities, our planet and each other."
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, says: "As the home of the Green Industrial Revolution, the West Midlands is leading the way on tackling climate change and creating the high-skilled green jobs of the future. That’s why it is absolutely brilliant that British Gas is committed to recruiting more than 400 apprentices here as part of their green skills drive.
"Not only will this support the region’s green ambitions, but it’s also hundreds of opportunities at a critical time for many who are worried about their future following the Covid pandemic."