Ausgrid is diversifying its workforce through its new apprentice and trainee development program, and investing in the future of the industry, providing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to customers.

35 apprentices and trainees will be recruited in 2019 across the electricity network in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter. Through the new Bright Spark Program, Ausgrid is building a more diverse workforce, targeting female, indigenous and mature age apprentices and trainees and 28 have already commenced with the business.

Ausgrid Executive General Manager of People and Transformation, Hannah McCaughey, said the high standards set for the program are changing how new recruits are selected and developed.

“The quality of candidates for this program was outstanding and as a woman in a senior leadership role I’m delighted to see that 21 of this class of 28 are women; they will be trailblazers across our business.”

“At Ausgrid we know diversity is a strength and a more diverse workforce can improve safety and innovation. Importantly it will help us better support the communities we serve,” she said.

“As we look to build the network of the future we need all our employees to bring fresh ways of thinking and working, and the Bright Sparks program is one of the key initiatives.”

The four-year apprenticeship program covers traditional areas as well as emerging new technologies like renewables and digitalisation. The apprentices and trainees will help Ausgrid deliver better outcomes for customers through their different experiences, perspectives and ideas.

Among the group is 25 year old Annika Van Lierop from Kariong who has traded a career in medical science for the energy industry.

“I have a degree in science and used to work as a scientist in a pathology lab. If you had asked me if I was going to be working in the energy industry a few year ago the answer would have been no.

“I looked at the career prospects in the electrical field and read in the next five years they expect five percent job growth and obviously everyone needs electricity. So that’s why I thought I want a good career opportunity.

“You get so much training and support at Ausgrid, we’ll learn so many trade skills that I’ve never had to use before and I’m really excited for that and seeing the range of jobs that are out there in this industry is good to know for the future,” she said.

18 year old Tahlia Keen from Mortdale has swapped a customer service role at Sydney Airport for an Ausgrid electrician uniform. She hopes more young girls and women will consider careers in the industry.

“What drew me to [the industry] were the practical and mathematical aspects, I love problem solving and the future is where I think electricity is at especially with renewable energy.”

“Growing up and looking at the electricity industry I didn’t see many women. I’d love for younger girls to look up and see that this is something that they too can do in the future.”

Lindsay Biers from Wollongong is 36 and previously worked in the corporate world, was also drawn to a hands-on career in energy.

“I think it is a reflection of society that more women are now considering roles they may not have considered before.

“When I was in school it wasn’t something that was on the radar for women but it’s fantastic to see a lot of women with quite a range of backgrounds and different skill sets they bring all finding that common joy in learning the industry.”

Lindsay says she is looking forward to the variety and breadth of training and support the Bright Sparks program involves.

“I really appreciate how the program incorporates lots of different roles within the energy industry and we will walk out with a huge range of skills in energy distribution, transmission and as electricians as well,” she said.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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