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Age proves no barrier for Downham Market apprentice with country's biggest electricity distributor

A Downham worker has shown that it is too late to change your career path after taking a new direction with the country’s biggest electricity distributor.

Ben Pegg, 41, is one of two dozen experienced apprentices set to complete their UK Power Networks apprenticeships in September of this year.

Speaking ahead of National Apprenticeship Week Mr Pegg, 41, insists age should never been seen as a barrier to anyone deciding on taking on an apprenticeship.

UK Powere Networks apprentice Ben Pegg who works out of the Downham yard. Picture: Nigel Bowles (44348517)
UK Powere Networks apprentice Ben Pegg who works out of the Downham yard. Picture: Nigel Bowles (44348517)

Working out of the Downham yard in Norfolk as an experienced apprentice overhead linesman, Mr Pegg is the eldest of the group he trains with, but embraces any banter because he reckons age is just a number.

Mr Pegg said: “Adult apprenticeships can be few and far between, but I knew from speaking to people who worked at UK Power Networks that it could be a great option for me.

"I was a supervisor working in metering before this having also previously worked in the off-shore wind industry.

“I’m sometimes known as the ‘old man’ of the group, but there are others in their thirties and most are in their mid-to-later twenties.

"There’s always going to be a range of ages wherever you work so being a bit older doesn’t bother me, it’s all good fun.

“By the time I finish this apprenticeship I’ll be 42 so I’m still going to have a good 20 years or more of my working life left, that’s a long time so for me it was worthwhile.”

UK Power Networks distributes electricity across London, the South East and East of England and has a range of apprenticeships with the foundation scheme aimed at school leavers, while higher and experienced apprenticeships cater for older ages.

Steven Read, trainee programmes manager at UK Power Networks, said: “Apprenticeships and traineeships have a huge importance to the future success of our business and we are always determined to make the opportunities we have open and available to all.

“The experienced apprentices who started back in September 2019 have shown that apprenticeships are not the exclusive preserve of young people, they can be taken on by different ages by people at different stages of their career who want to make a change.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a hugely challenging period for everyone, but, like their other colleagues at UK Power Networks, our apprentices have kept going and continued to help keep the power flowing safely for our customers.”

Robert Halfon, MP, who chairs the government’s select committee on education, said: “UK Power Networks’ apprentices are engaging with and enjoying an apprenticeship scheme designed to deliver a workforce for the future.

"Skills and apprenticeships are something I have always been passionate about because they offer a ladder of opportunity to jobs, security and prosperity.”

Last year also saw UK Power Networks launch a new Leadership Academy for middle managers made possible through the Apprenticeship Levy scheme.

Up to 600 line managers at the company are being given the chance to gain the new qualification of a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) diploma in leadership and management to support their personal and professional development.

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