I’m an apprentice, ask me anything

Our apprenticeship schemes play a vital role in our business, and help us continue to have highly-skilled subject matter experts working in our sector. They span a number of different skillsets and offer opportunities for both those just starting out in the world of work, along with those who are interested in a career change.

We’re proud to currently have around 100 apprentices across the business in a range of roles. From mechanical engineers to chartered surveyors, there’s something for everyone.

We caught up with some of them about the roles they’re currently in, why they love their jobs and any advice they would give to anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship.

Mechanical Process Technician, Jake will start us off…

What does your role involve?

My role involves doing mechanical tasks to fix different types of equipment. I find myself moving from one site to another, finding problems or being called out and fixing them. The jobs range from huge tasks such as replacing the bearings on the bottom of a RAS (Return Activated Sludge) screw or changing a wheel on a Final Settlement Tank. I also do checks on different pumps to see if maintenance is needed and then carry out the maintenance if necessary.

What do you love the most about your role?

I love the idea of being hands-on, being part of the team and helping out in running the various sites around my area in Southern Water.  I like learning the techniques of my mentor which I need to follow to become a greater mechanic, and the satisfaction of bringing equipment that I fixed back into action.

Have you got any advice for anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship in the industry?

Apprenticeships are a brilliant career path. Not only do you get the knowledge, you get the experience. That experience is priceless and makes you more employable as well as giving you that confidence needed to do the job.

The apprenticeship in the industry I work in (Water Treatment) is excellent for giving mechanical or electrical knowledge, and great for the transition between college and working life. I’ve learnt so many different things since being an apprentice for Southern Water and I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship in Water treatment!

 Mechanical Fitter, Andrew Cottingham is another apprentice in the operational field…

What does your role involve?

My job involves carrying out maintenance tasks including fixing plants, critical site assets and lifting chain inspections. It’s also my role to keep sites compliant.  

What do you love most about your role?

Every day is different. I get so much job satisfaction in getting plant and assets up and running again, and working with a great bunch of work colleagues is definitely a bonus.

Have you got any advice for anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship in the industry?

If you get the chance to do an apprenticeship, take it with both hands. Even though three years seems a long time, time really does fly and it’s one of my greatest achievements in life.

You get amazing support through managers, at the workshops and from your team. There is always help at the end of the phone. All I can say is, if you get the chance, do it!

Here’s Area Plan Lead – East, Samuel Jenkins who’s started an apprenticeship as part of a second career with us.

What does your role involve?

I’m responsible for building the area asset plan for water in Kent and Hastings. This involves working closely with Operations and Asset Management to identify and articulate risk-based investment requirements for PR24 and beyond. I’m also acting sponsor for AMP7 delivery, working with project managers to progress vital schemes.

What do you love most about your role?

The variety of projects I am helping to deliver and the range of people involved. I have an excellent team around me and I’m learning a great deal since moving to water after eight years in wastewater.

Have you got any advice for anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship in the industry?

Do it! I’m really enjoying the Associate Project Management Programme – the content is interesting and challenging but manageable with my day job. The workshops are very interactive and enjoyable, it’s been a useful source of social interaction whilst working from home too.

Progressing through the course and online learning is helping me to better understand and develop within my role and the lunchtime talks from Southern Water mentors are really useful.  

Project management terminology is starting to make sense and I’m gaining a greater appreciation for subjects that I’ve given little focus to previously (e.g. governance). Our course trainer is friendly and knowledgeable and clearly cares about helping us achieve the best marks possible, we have regular one-to-ones and any queries are responded to quickly.

 I’ve also made new connections with colleagues on the course and we’re helping each other out with our practice exam questions and assignments. It’s the best training I’ve been on so far at Southern Water and I’ll gain a recognised qualification at that end of it.

 Stephen Williams is a Network Protection and Enforcement Officer who helps to protect our sewer network from illegal damage and misuse.

Tell us about your apprenticeship. What does your role involve?

Stephen said: “I have joined the apprenticeship as part of a second career in the water industry. My role dictates that I often have a managerial role in the investigation, evidence gathering and enforcement process in dealing with internal and external customers at Southern Water.

“There is also an opportunity to consider a management position in the role. This apprenticeship provides the vehicle and knowledge for both enhancing business as usual and possible promotion.”


To find out more about our apprenticeships, read our blog by Head of Talent & Development here: http://ow.ly/PHNz50DvegU