Women’s smart career path

female engineer, career path
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Trade careers have traditionally been more male dominated, employing fewer women and often susceptible to masculine stereotypes.

However, there have been many changes in the past decade and opportunities for women within the industry are starting to grow. This is particularly true during Britain’s significant trade skills shortage which is affecting many industries from engineering to construction. Here, Kerry-Anne Berry, director at ECTA Training, discusses the benefits of a trade career for women and the many opportunities becoming available in smart metering.

While Britain’s trade industry as a whole is suffering from a severe skills shortage, one sector in particular that urgently needs a boost in workforce is smart metering.

Under a Government initiative, over 50 million smart meters are to be installed in UK homes by 2020, but with the lack of engineers currently available, this target is in danger of being missed.

An estimated 6,500 more qualified smart meter engineers are currently needed to install meters during peak periods, but without these numbers the ambitious infrastructure project is likely to be a costly failure. So where will all these new, qualified engineers come from with only three more years to go?

Why smart metering?

Because the industry currently employs more men than women, it may seem the obvious choice to turn to male candidates to fill the positions available. However, the skills gap is also a fantastic opportunity for many women and this should be more of a focus for key stakeholders in the smart meter target.

New entrants to the industry will find that positions are plentiful at the moment due to the current demand for smart meter installations, so entering into a career once you have become a qualified engineer is usually quick. The skills gap and high demand for smart meter installations also means that positions are secure and stable, which can be very appealing for those who are looking to settle into prosperous career rather than just a job.

Not only are there thousands of smart metering positions available, there are also many benefits to entering into this career. As with many engineering careers, starting salaries and earning potential are generally high. In fact, a survey of women working in engineering careers revealed that over half (60%) chose their career path because of the substantial earnings. And the remuneration in these roles often isn’t just the salary. Many of our smart meter trainees have secured roles which offer a generous pension, bonus and benefits package, as well as a van and tools for completing jobs.

Another important aspect to many smart meter trainees is the opportunities available to progress in managerial or supervisorial roles. Once candidates are fully qualified there is plenty of scope for progression into more senior positions, some of which may afford more flexibility. Having more control over your own schedule is often cited as being a beneficial aspect for women. This may make trade careers more appealing as 80% of women in these roles are their own bosses and employ on average two other people.

Perhaps most vitally to those who are looking for an entirely new career is that no prior industry experience is necessary to gain a smart meter qualification. This means that doors to a stable career are open to candidates of all experience levels, no matter what their background or previous profession was.

How to train up in trade

Despite all the benefits available in a smart metering career, many women may not be aware of what training courses entail and whether they meet the criteria. In reality, ECTA Training’s smart metering courses can be undertaken whether candidates have worked in trade before or not. The courses themselves have been designed to ensure that they prepare candidates fully for a career as a smart meter installer, and an important aspect of this is the completion of a work placement with an energy company. This will usually be completed with a business which is actively recruiting in the candidate’s region, and the placement often leads to a job offer following the course. The rest of the course is delivered in-house by experienced industry professionals, who provide support for candidates of all backgrounds and learning styles.

ECTA’s most popular smart metering course, the dual energy qualification, takes just 14 weeks to complete and will prepare trainees for a career in installing both gas and electric smart meters. The majority of trainees go straight into their new career in engineering, so for those who are looking for a smooth transition into a new career, this could be the ideal route as it offers a well-paid and secure career reasonably quickly. This could also appeal to those who have perhaps been made redundant or are looking to get back into work, who can train up without any prior industry experience.

Training up in smart metering offers a unique opportunity for many women who want a well-paid, stable career with scope for progression. In the run up to the 2020 deadline, particularly during the workforce shortage, there has never been a better time to gain a qualification in smart metering.

For more information on the courses ECTA Training provides, please visit http://www.ectatraining.co.uk/

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