Women can do it too:
Meet our apprentices in smart meter engineering
Training enough specialists to help the UK create a sustainable future simply isn’t possible without a greater diversity of people involved. More women, trans people and non-binary people must be encouraged into engineering fields if we hope to stay ahead as a nation of forward thinkers. This is something we’re passionate about at Universal Skills Group, with more women joining our cohorts each year. So, to prove that it’s not ‘just men’ who enjoy our courses, we recently caught up with two of our apprentice smart meter engineers, Kelsey and Julie.
Read what they think of their apprenticeships so far, below!
And if you know a person who might be interested in training as a smart meter engineer, do share this article with them.
Meet the apprentices
Kelsey - Former recycling collector
Thanks to her last job collecting recycling, Kelsey was used to surprising people as the only woman on the team. But, thinking of the future, Kelsey wanted to gain qualifications in a job that would still allow her to learn on the go and do something genuinely interesting. She said:
“I wanted to get some qualifications and skills behind me. I liked to be out and about…hands on…practical.”
After looking into the Dual Fuel Smart Metering Apprenticeship quite extensively, Kelsey set her sights on the qualification.
“I really wanted it. It’s entry level, so you didn't need any background in the role. That made me think that anyone can do it, whether you’re a male or a female.”
After taking the plunge, Kesley started her apprenticeship training at the Universal Skills Training Centre. She looked back on her first days of the course:
“When I first started I was nervous because I thought that people would think that I wouldn't be able to do it. Gas is predominantly male. But there’s opportunity out there.”
“I find it more positive [today]”, she continued. “We're getting there.
“Any sort of business; they need women to work for them because it makes them a better business.”
Describing the apprenticeship as a ‘good platform’, Kelsey is also optimistic about the future opportunities it may bring. For example, gaining further qualifications in renewables, including EV charging point and solar panel installation.
Julie - Former Sky Engineer
At 52, Julie had her reservations about becoming a smart metering engineer, not least because she knew she’d likely be the oldest on her course. And as a Sky Engineer at the time, it took courage to take her career on a new path. Jule said:
“I came here, I was the oldest and I was the only woman. I thought; am I going to be good enough and clever enough to do this?”
But it didn’t take long to realise she was up to the challenge.
“I really enjoyed the training at Universal Skills. And I surprised myself at how - when we do quizzes and things like that - I’m running rings around the others.”
When asked about using her new training in public, Julie said she gets a lot of positive comments, mainly from women.
“I get vulnerable, elderly people talking to me. [They say] I'm so glad they sent a woman and good on you - how the world and people's attitudes need to change.”
“And the pay is good. It's a good job. You're in a hands-on role, where every day is different, it's versatile. You meet some amazing people.”
Julie has also been a long-standing advocate for diversity and inclusion. She recalled a real-life example of the work still to be done when it comes to widespread change in attitudes:
“I was changing a gas meter in someone's front garden and they had a phone call from the neighbour saying that there's a woman messing with your gas meter!”
When the customer clarified that Julie was, in fact, an engineer, they simply replied
"Oh, I didn't know that women did that sort of thing."
“Female engineers can do as good a job as a man can. Slowly, slowly - it's going to take some time - but attitudes need to change.”
A huge thank you to Kelsey and Julie for sharing their stories with us!
Interested in building a greener future?
No matter how you identify, Universal Skills Group welcomes those enthralled by the idea of building a more sustainable future. We train the specialists of a greener tomorrow, with a passion for renewable technologies and continual personal development.
If you’re interested in becoming a smart metering engineer, guided by an outstanding group of friendly teachers and mentors, explore our Dual Fuel Smart Metering Apprenticeship further!