Since starting operations in 2005, we’ve recruited over 180 apprentices. From emergency engineers to the teams looking after the control systems of the gas network, apprentices are central to the work we do to keep the gas flowing to heat homes, power businesses, and keep local people safe and warm.

Usually, our apprentice training is split between our own training academies in Treforest and Bridgwater and practical experience as a gas engineer.

This year, our Build & Replace apprentices were mid-way through their theory and practical learning when the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the UK-wide lockdown in March.

But using technology, and working closely with our trusted suppliers, our the 19 apprentices have been able to continue to learn about mains laying and repairing gas leaks, keeping their studies remain on track.

At the start of lockdown we paused apprentice training, but quickly took the decision to change to online learning so our apprentices could continue to learn. They work hard to develop their skills and experience, and we didn’t want them to fall too far behind in their studies.

Wales & West Utilities Learning & Development Manager, Theresa Williams

Working with training provider, Utilise, the Wales & West Utilities Learning & Development team developed online training through Microsoft Teams to create a virtual classroom for the apprentices. Due to the innovative and versatile manner in which Teams can be used, instructors were able to share videos, podcasts and presentations, as well as setting tasks for apprentices to complete and upload during the lesson.

There’s really no other way of delivering this type of training at the moment.

By working in partnership to put together this learning package quickly, it’s allowed all students to benefit from essential theory learning and they’ve been able to continue to fill in their portfolios online.

Utilise, Steve Anderton

Despite initial reservations from some apprentices, the reaction from those taking part in the programme has been positive.

I’m really enjoying it. It’s virtually the same as learning theory in the classroom, but without the follow-up practical’s.

I wasn’t sure about it at the outset, but it’s really helping me to progress and catch up on the things we would have missed due to lockdown.

This way of learning theory will continue for the foreseeable until the guidance changes, and I am happy that my learning won’t slip

Wales & West Utilities Apprentice, Jack Pascoe