We welcomed eight new apprentices onto our Wind Turbine Technician apprenticeship scheme in September. They’ll spend 18 months learning the theoretical side of the role at Tyne Metropolitan College in North Shields. Before working on one of EDF Renewables’ sites across the UK to learn the practical elements of the job. We caught up with them nearly six months into their programme to find out how their apprenticeship is progressing.
Q. It’s been less than six months since you started your apprenticeship, but what have you learnt in that time?
Jamie Johnson: “I have gained mountains of knowledge both on and off site. Before starting, I had little to no knowledge on turbines and how they work. I now know the basic structure of the turbine, and how it works; as well as some detailed knowledge on the components.”
“I have also learned first aid training, fire awareness, slinging and banksman, hub rescue, and working at height – through our GWO training right at the start of the apprenticeship.”
“Being an apprentice at EDF Renewables has also taught me lots about values and purpose: it has made me think about the things I value, and what gives me passion to work on a day-to-day basis.”
Q. What’s been your favourite part of your apprenticeship so far?
Ben Ferguson: “Mine has been working on-site with multiple technicians who have lots of experience in the field and are able to share their skills and learnings with me. This has helped me gain a better understanding of what’s required as a wind turbine technician and I love that every day is different!”
Haaris Razzaq, agrees: “My favourite part of the apprenticeship so far , was the first time that I climbed a wind turbine. When I reached the top, I felt a great sense of achievement and was excited to learn more about a wind turbine and how they operate.”
Lucy Cooper adds: “My favourite part has been the opportunity to get to know what the job will be like: going up a wind turbine and meeting everyone at the service centre where I’ll be based.”
Q. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your training?
Sam Cockcroft: “It’s forced us to complete a lot of our college lessons from home online. It’s not been ideal, but it’s the way it’s had to be.”
Q. Covid-19 also meant you couldn’t attend a face-to-face assessment as part of the application process. What was your experience like of the virtual assessment instead?
Sam Cockcroft: “The virtual assessments were enjoyable. You can avoid nerves because you’re in a less formal surrounding, which allows you to express yourself more and show the employer exactly who you are a person. To prepare, I recommend you write down as many notes as possible prior to your assessment, and have them accessible while completing the interview.”
Ben Ferguson adds: “I thought the layout and whole process of the assessment centre was set-up well and easy to follow. The company gave regular updates on the status of the application and although everything was delivered online, it was still enjoyable.
“The main thing I did to prepare was research EDF Renewables as a company. I think it’s so important to learn about the role which you’re applying for, as well as understand the company and have an interest in helping Britain achieve Net Zero. My advice to any candidate is to be yourself, show what you can bring to EDF Renewables and explain why you want the apprenticeship.”
Q. How do you feel to be working in an industry helping Britain accelerate to a Net Zero future?
Ben Ferguson: “Helping Britain to achieve Net Zero is a privilege and it makes me a proud employee at EDF Renewables. As an apprentice, I still have many things to learn about my job, but I know that helping Britain achieve Net Zero is something I would like to do for the rest of my career.”
Craig Johnston adds: It has many positives. Net Zero is making a cleaner future for myself and my family. And it’s good to be training in an industry that is only going to grow, so I am more likely to be job secure than if I was working in another industry.”
Q. What are you looking forward to next on your apprenticeship?
Torin Harvey Waugh: “I am looking forward to getting out on site and helping maintain the turbines. My favourite bit so far has been getting out to the service centre and wind turbines.”
Craig Johnston agrees: “Getting to train with wind turbine technicians is next, and I am very much looking forward to it. I feel I am going to learn a lot. Both on the technical side – how to maintain a wind turbine – but also experiencing what it is like on the job and between jobs; and how they organise their lives.”
Q. Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others who want to work in the renewable energy sector?
Sam Cockcroft: “I would 100% recommend an apprenticeship to others looking for an avenue into the sector. It’s a growing industry with lots of opportunities. And an apprenticeship gives you that base knowledge and foothold to help you develop and flourish.”
Ben Ferguson adds: “The renewable energy sector is such a growing industry and is the future for the world we live in today. EDF Renewables is so supportive with the apprenticeship scheme and has helped me every step of the way.”