Britain’s largest water and wastewater utility said it hopes to hire 1,000 new workers this year, Thames Water UK announced late last month.
The water company, which serves some 15 million people across London and beyond, says it will meet the ambitious goal by tripling its apprenticeships and focusing on hiring unemployed youth.
Thames Water will also work with the U.K. government on a sector-based work academy program.
The new pledge zeroes in on individuals who have lost jobs in the pandemic by “offering them industry experience and training so they can thrive in progressive careers,” says federal Minister for Employment, Mims Davies.
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Thames Water has already been busy during COVID-19. In 2020, the company hired 758 new employees across a range of roles, including 180 new customer service agents to increase the company’s customer support service.
The new employment push will support the government’s Kickstart job placement scheme. Thames Water will create 50 placements for people aged 16 to 24, who are unemployed and on Universal Credit. The placements, starting in February 2021, will be hosted across the business for 26 weeks and will give young people the opportunity to gain experience in the water industry, the company said.
“The ongoing pandemic means it’s a really tough situation for many people who have lost their jobs and are looking for work,” announced Thames Water chief executive Sarah Bentley in a media statement. “In these difficult times, reaching out to areas of society who have been most affected is the right thing to do,” added Bentley, who called the hiring drive a “long-term strategy” for the utility, which formed in 1989.
In terms of apprenticeships, Thames Water leaders say they will launch its first shared apprenticeship scheme, working in collaboration with its supply chain, to build skills across the utility sector. The utility will provide apprenticeships in management, data analysis, engineering and customer service to its current and future workforce. The company is also offering new and existing employees digital, literacy and numeracy training, to remove any barriers to career progression, company leaders announced.
In its announcement about the hiring drive, Thames Water stated that it has also been busy diversifying its workforce, not just expanding it. Recently, it has encouraged more women to apply for manual frontline roles by changing the “masculine” wording of its job postings. In addition, the utility has also joined the 10,000 Black Interns program, offering 10 internships annually.
Thames Water acknowledged that it may take until 2025 before it fully triples its available apprenticeships.