Career in electricity generation

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John Davies is a team leader at the Torr Achilty Power Station near Dingwall in the Scottish glens. Operated by Scottish and Southern Energy Hydro Electric Power Stations it harnesses the power of the glens to generate green electricity.

What does your job involve?

I supervise craftsmen – electrical, mechanical and civil – who are working in Group Maintenance & Operation. It is my job to plan the engineering work for the teams to carry out. I also have electrical craft duties as and when required and I carry out safety inspections.

Do you have a typical day?

No two days are the same. At any time machinery can break down or fail to start. In view of the amount of power we are producing a stoppage is an extremely serious matter and has to be dealt with quickly. There are also manpower and safety issues to address at all times.

What equipment do you use?

I normally use a computer to provide routine job cards and to record maintenance. I use electrical craft tools and meters when necessary.

What was your route to your career in electricity generation?

I started by leaving school and going to college to do a GSVQ Level 2 in Electrical Engineering. I was first employed as an apprentice electrician and then as an electrician for two years before leaving to become an electrical fitter with Scottish and Southern Energy. I worked as an electrical fitter for 18 months, and then became a team leader.

Why did you choose to work in electricity generation?

The work interested me and I thought it would be a challenge. I also thought that we would always need electricians so there will always be work.

What training have you received?

I did basic electrical training at college together with a full Apprenticeship. As an apprentice electrician I learned on the job with college block release to get SVQ Level 3 in Installing and Commissioning of Electrical Systems.

What hours do you work?

I work from 8am till 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. I sometimes need to do overtime and I may be called out in emergencies.

What do you like best about your career in electricity generation?

It is a good company to work for as they are very supportive. I enjoy what I do and the work is varied, each day is never the same. It is interesting and challenging, and I get to see a lot of very beautiful areas of Scotland.

Are there any disadvantages to your job?

No, I haven't found any so far.

What skills and qualities do you need?

You need basic electrical craft knowledge and experience, and good communication skills. You also need good organisation skills and to be adaptable.

What are your long-term career goals?

I would like to become an engineer and subsequently progress into management.

John's route to his career in electricity generation

  • GSVQ Level 2 in Electrical Engineering.
  • SVQ Level 3 in Installing and Commissioning of Electrical Systems.
  • City & Guilds Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.
  • City & Guilds Management of Electrical Equipment Maintenance.
  • Studying towards HNC in Multidiscipline Engineering.

John's electricity generation tips

  • Concentrate on maths and technical subjects at school.
  • Gain as much practical experience as possible when opportunities arise.
  • Set your goals and work towards them.

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Salary information

  • Salaries start at around £15,000. An experienced craftsperson may earn £22,000.
  • A senior technician may earn £30,000.
  • Extra payments for overtime may be available.

Career in electricity generation

  • The normal entry route is as an apprentice. Most apprentices join between 16 and 18, but it is possible to join at any age up to 25. They may be engineering, electrical or electronics apprentices or may be multiskilled.
  • It is possible to start work as a trainee electrician straight from school and train on the job as a craftsperson.
  • Many employers want to be sure entrants can cope with the academic aspects of the training, so they may require three to five GCSEs/S grades (A-E/1-5). In particular, they look for English, maths, science and technology. A BTEC first diploma is a good alternative.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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