"I found a lot of fulfilment from resolving the day to day challenges working in this industry."
In today’s age, many British Asians aim for an enriching job that truly makes a difference to UK society. However, they may not realise the benefits and opportunities in the energy and utilities sector.
Yet, this industry holds a vital place in society and contributes daily to our everyday lives. Many ‘unseen heroes’ in this sector ensure they run on a constant basis.
As society continues to grow, so will the need for demand and new candidates. In particular, it serves as a great career choice for British Asians as it becomes a diverse industry.
But let’s take a closer look at the industry itself through the lives of three women who found success in energy and utilities; Hema, Urvashi and Jazz.
Hema joined Balfour Beatty* in 2011, joining them as a Design Manager for their Leeds office. She soon became UK Design Manager in 2014, with the responsibility for all substation design work and the management of approximately 50 engineers and designers.
However, her original intentions didn’t lie in this industry. Hema first studied in Electrical Engineering in India, yet found the energy and utilities sector more rewarding when she started a job in electrical engineering for power generation.
She explains: “I found a lot of fulfilment from resolving the day to day challenges working in this industry, and did not feel the need to switch to the IT industry which was the norm in India.”
Now she ensures that Balfour Beatty, a key player in the power transmission and distribution sector, assigns the right designers and engineers to complete successful tasks for clients including the design and construction of high voltage substations, overhead lines and cable connections which power homes, businesses and vital services across the country.
Urvashi also didn’t start off in the industry. Prior to her role as a Stakeholder Coordinator at Northern Gas Networks (NGN)*, she worked as a teaching assistant. “Even though working with children was fulfilling, I wanted more of an office based job,” she explains.
New prospective candidates are crucial for energy and utilities. For example, NGN transports gas to 2.7 million homes in the North of England delivering a safe and reliable gas supply to around 6.8 million customers.
Jazz from UK Power Networks* tells us they keep “the lights on for more than 8 million homes and businesses” across southern parts of England.
To keep this industry running smoothly, new talent is needed. Bringing fresh ideas and solutions and innovative thinking to pioneer a low carbon, affordable energy future for everyone.
As Hema says: “The need to fight pollution, the adverse impacts of climate change and the effect of carbon on the climate has steered the world away from fossil-based power sources towards non-carbon based energy alternatives.
“New technology is enabling the generation of more green energy making it an exciting time to be a part of the industry.”
With this in mind, the sector is finding new ways to reduce carbon emissions. Employees play a crucial role in enabling the UK deliver on its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
How does the Sector support British Asian Women?
Many British Asian women can feel wary of entering into this industry. For decades, it has been seen as a white, male-dominated field.
However, Jazz explains: “This [perception] is mainly to do with both a lack of understanding and awareness of the industry and the opportunities available.
“As businesses are striving to become more diverse, the sector is automatically becoming more diverse.”
So what are companies doing to support British Asian women?
In UK Power Networks, they “offer employees the chance to embark upon [their] ‘mentoring’ programme which is open to all staff members. It is one which has received an abundance of positive feedback, which suggests that they are feeling empowered”.
The industry works hard to keep employees in a continual developmental journey. Where they gain experience and skills. In Urvashi’s time with NGN, she explains:
“In the last three years, I have had three different roles, working for NGN has opened many doors for me. The company had given me great opportunities to not only carry out my day-to-day role but also engage with different departments and teams and learn about the whole business.”
Roles and Remuneration
In term of career options, the sector provides you with a variety of different roles, each focusing on a specific strand of energy and utilities. All these different roles work hand-in-hand together to keep services running smoothly.
Hema says it’s key to assign “the right people, with the right qualifications and knowledge to each job so we are able to meet the needs of our clients”.
Let’s take a glance through the different opportunities available and their starting salaries:
- Energy Engineer – approx. £20,000 – £28,000
- Energy Manager – approx. £22,000 – £33,000
- Environmental Consultant – approx. £22,000 – £24,500
- Water Engineer – approx. £20,000 – £30,000
Roles currently available for applicants with transferable skills include:
- Quantity Surveyor – approx. £32,000 – £37,000
- Procurement Reporting Analyst – approx. £28,000 – £43,000
- Customer Care Quality Manager – approx. £26,000 – £30,000
- Digital Development Lead – approx. £48,000 – £63,000
With such a huge array of fulfilling roles, the sector offers British Asians with enriching, lucrative careers. Making a huge difference to themselves, as well as society. Hema adds:
“What makes [the sector] so exciting is also the fact that the current challenges in this industry cannot be solved by electrical engineering alone, but should compass learnings from other industries.”
Inspiring the Next Generation
Jazz reveals that despite advancements, the sector still faces key issues: lack of female engineers and a changing demographic. She adds: “The UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe.” In addition, both she and Hema cited skills shortage as another concern.
“The challenges to the UK Transmission network are unique and quite demanding due to the shortage of skills, however, the current skills gap offers lots of opportunities for people wanting to bring their skills to the power sector.” Hema argues.
This raises the question: How is the sector encouraging the next generation, particularly young British Asians?
Jazz believes the right members of staff can make all the difference. At career fairs, UK Power Networks “ensure we have some of our apprentices with us at these events.
“We want young people to be able to speak to one of our colleagues and be able to relate and ultimately feel that a career in engineering is something they can genuinely aspire to.”
By breaking down misconceptions about the industry, these companies created an inclusive welcome for all prospective candidates.
Talent Source Network ~ Bridging the Gap
With energy and utilities transforming into a great career choice for British Asians, how then can they make that all-important first step? This is where Talent Source Network can help you.
They serve as a careers portal; bridging the gap between employers and candidates. Working with over 20 employers, they aim to provide a variety of rewarding, intriguing roles in energy and utilities.
Talent Source Network aims to bring diversity into the sector; giving everyone of all races an equal chance. They also aim to help many British Asians, especially women, achieve their potential by developing their skills and expertise in the industry.
So, why not take the first step to embarking on a fantastic career? Visit Talent Source Network’s website to find out more today.