Apprenticeship program key for Australia’s energy transition

05 September 2023

Essential Energy is enhancing its award-winning apprenticeship program to strengthen the capability of its workforce in support of Australia’s clean energy transition.

To help meet the projected demand for new skills, Essential Energy has embarked on its largest apprenticeship recruitment campaign in more than 15 years. The electricity distributor is expanding its training programs to fill the projected gaps in industry capability as new and emerging technology and renewable power sources are rolled out across NSW.

While traditional trade qualifications will remain integral to Essential Energy’s four-year apprenticeship program, additional training modules will be 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 the State.

Technology and innovations in energy are transforming the sector, driving change across all aspects on the electricity supply chain and creating new job opportunities. Given the rapid pace of change as energy networks adapt to a low-carbon future, Essential Energy is developing micro-courses to guide training on clean energy skills and expertise, with the plan to expand into accredited courses and training program components. 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.

Essential Energy Chief People Officer Amalie Smith said “Now is arguably the most exciting time ever to start an apprenticeship or traineeship in our sector, the opportunities and possibilities are endless. In reality, 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.

We are a regional business that thinks on a global level. Access to highly skilled labour has already been identified by the industry as one of the biggest potential hurdles for Australia in achieving its clean energy targets. We need to ensure our passionate and curious people are well placed to support the clean energy transition and safely maintain our network now and into the future to empower communities.

“We are committed to nurturing a diverse and highly skilled workforce required 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.

While traditional training modules will remain at the heart of Essential Energy’s apprenticeship programs, we are developing new courses and qualifications that will help meet the requirements of an energy sector accelerating towards net zero. Ensuring Essential Energy’s workforce remains at the forefront of evolving industry technologies is crucial to keep our people, our customers and the wider community remains safe.”

Essential Energy powerline worker Jacob Browne, who recently graduated from his four-year apprenticeship, said “It’s a great time to work in the energy industry, the way our everyday lives are powered is changing, and I love being a part of that change. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to learn new skills and be equipped for those crucial changes, in an important and fulfilling career at Essential Energy.”

125 apprentices and trainees across 77 locations in regional NSW will start their career with Essential Energy in January 2024. The recruitment campaign attracted strong interest from female candidates, reflecting the larger numbers of young women taking on STEM subjects at school, TAFE and university.

The program is 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 remained with the business after completing their apprenticeship, with one in four promoted into higher level technical and supervisory roles.

Essential Energy’s additional training programs will cater for both apprentices and experienced technicians transitioning their career paths in readiness for a renewable energy world.

Customers seeking information on our activities to support renewable energy should visit our Sustainability pages.