Helping to deliver the Northern Powerhouse

Posted On: 
11th December 2017

At United Utilities, we are privileged to provide water and wastewater services to three million homes and 200,000 businesses to ensure that every day, life flows smoothly.

We appreciate the way we act has a profound influence on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the North West. 

It is a duty we readily accept and we are committed to creating a more sustainable and prosperous region by taking a responsible approach to our day-to-day activities.

Investing in the skills the economy needs

Delivering our services requires the talent of over 5,000 employees, with skills ranging from engineering and science, through to customer service and long-term planning.

We recruit and train our employees to meet the challenges facing the water sector for the next decade, not just for the present. We are proud to be in the top 100 apprenticeship employers and currently have 150 apprentices working across the region. As the only water company on the Government’s Apprenticeship Training Provider Register, we take our responsibility as a career-focused company seriously and are delighted to be a market leader in apprentice training. In addition, we recently welcomed 18 new graduates onto our graduate scheme making a total of 104 in the last five years.

We’ve joined forces with the Careers Transition Partnership to provide employment opportunities to ex-service personnel. Through Teach First we are coaching new teachers, mentoring students and hosting work place visits for schools in low-income areas to reach those that may not get the best opportunities. In addition, we work with the Engineering Development Trust to involve students in real scientific, engineering and technology projects.

Some young people find it difficult to enter the workplace, so we have created a programme to help them. To date, 62 young people not in education, employment and training (NEET) have passed through the programme with nearly 80% finding work.

Ensuring our skills contribute to the region’s prosperity

The success of the Northern Powerhouse in part depends upon a skilled workforce to build and operate resilient infrastructure. Businesses want to invest in places that are free from physical risks such as flooding and the skilled workers the economy needs want to live in places that are similarly protected from natural hazards. 

We have focused our efforts to ensure the infrastructure services we provide are resilient to situations where we have too much water, or too little. But these risks cannot be managed by water companies alone so we are working with businesses, local authorities, regulators and environmental groups to create and implement collaborative solutions. 

For example, we are in partnership with several organisations in a street tree research project in Salford that could minimise urban flooding. Initial results from the scheme show the trees held back 40% of the water run-off, delaying the rate it went back into the sewer. 

The success of the Northern Powerhouse will require resilient infrastructure and all those organisations involved in making this happen must ensure their workforce has the skills to deliver it. And, like us, that begins with a commitment to inspire our future workers and to develop the talent to meet the North West’s ambitions for years to come.