Apprentices leading the charge to our energy future

28 March 2024

They’re rolling up their sleeves and leading the charge of our future energy needs. They’re committed to change and taking big steps to help fill a skills shortage in our clean energy future.

Essential Energy’s apprentices are our next electrical technicians, fleet managers and field operations team members who take on everything from powerlines to powering our next generation battery systems.

Essential Energy’s award-winning apprenticeship program is in high demand and will soon open its doors for the 2025 intake to get recognised qualifications and on-the-job experience.

The 2024 intake saw 144 positions filled across 77 locations in regional NSW and Southern Queensland.

The program is widely recognised for its high completion rates – 93 per cent of Essential Energy apprentices graduate, compared to a national average of 63 per cent. Importantly, more than 90 per cent have remained with the business after completing their apprenticeship, with one in four promoted into higher level technical and supervisory roles.

“The rapid transition to renewable energy is driving significant changes in the electricity supply industry, with new technologies and business models emerging to support the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources,” says Essential Energy Chief People Officer Amalie Smith.

“This requires new skills and competencies across the industry, including in areas such as energy storage, demand response and grid management.

“Now is still the most exciting time ever to start an apprenticeship or traineeship in our sector. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. The jobs of the future are still being defined, which is one of the attractions for people entering the industry now. We aren’t just offering people a job, we are offering them a stimulating long-term career.”

The current apprenticeship intake had the highest demand since 2007 and was one of the largest in Essential Energy history. There was a 20 per cent increase in numbers from 2023. Of that, 20 roles were female identified, while four apprentice roles were identified for First Nations people. Currently, there are 289 apprentices/trainees at 85 locations across the Essential Energy footprint.

Amalie says Essential Energy is working hard to attract more women and First Nations people to the company.

“We are nurturing a diverse and highly skilled workforce to support a renewable energy future, but we recognise that the capability can’t be developed overnight. The work to prepare our teams for the net zero journey must start now and that’s why our apprentices will be training for the jobs of the future, today,” she explains.

Essential Energy Head of Operations Brendon Neyland says while traditional trade qualifications remain integral to Essential Energy’s four-year apprenticeship program, additional training modules have been introduced to complement existing programs and build the skills, expertise and on-the job experience that will be crucial in supporting the expanding pipeline of new energy infrastructure projects across regional, rural and remote NSW.

“This includes the Essential Energy Future Skills Academy that will specialise in renewable energy training and address organisational and industry specific knowledge and skills gaps. The first classes are due to rollout in 2026.

“Given the rapid pace of change as energy networks adapt to a low-carbon future, we are developing micro-courses to guide training on clean energy skills and expertise, with the plan to expand into accredited courses and training program components,” Brendon says.

“Technology and innovations in energy are transforming the sector, driving change across all aspects on the electricity supply chain and creating new job opportunities.”

Subjects will include courses covering:

  • Solar energy
  • SAPS (Stand Alone Power Systems)
  • Battery storage
  • Electric vehicles
  • Commissioning (and decommissioning) renewable technologies.

Essential Energy also intends to explore its regional footprint covering 95 per cent of the State to identify potential sites to host training programs for the new and renewable technologies and plans to collaborate with tertiary institutions and industry peers to share research and resources.

Find out more

Apprentices at Goulburn

The current intake of apprentices during a training day at Goulburn.