OREANDA-NEWS. Slough MP, Fiona Mactaggart has heard first-hand from local apprentices about the energy industry career opportunities available to young people in the town.

During a recent visit to Southern Electric Power Distribution’s Slough depot, the Labour MP met four apprentices and Technical Skills Trainees who are currently on the company’s prestigious training scheme. SEPD is now recruiting for its 2016 programme and has four places available at its base in Chalvey.

Leon Braithwaite, a second year jointer from Ms Mactaggart’s constituency spoke with the MP about why he had chosen an apprenticeship and shared his thoughts on how to attract more young people to take the practical route into a career.

He said: “Being able to earn real money whilst training is fantastic, and because this job requires me to drive, Southern Electric Power Distribution also paid for my lessons and test. For somebody straight out of school it could help sway their decision, knowing they could not only learn to drive but also afford to be able to run their own car. An apprenticeship just offers so much more independence that a university course doesn’t without any of the debt.”

Ms Mactaggart also met first year apprentice jointer Josh Carr, third year apprentice jointer Andrea Petersen, and trainee jointer John Keen during the visit.

She said: “Too often young people in school do not find out about opportunities like this, where a practical apprenticeship can offer a stable, well paid career which can lead to management opportunities. Many of my constituents are anxious about student debt and this alternative can offer them a satisfying experience of working and being paid whilst learning.”

Ms Mactaggart also heard from SEPD’s head of the local region, Austin Cobb, about the progression opportunities available to apprentices with the company. He said: “A large proportion of the energy industry’s workforce is set to retire in the next decade, so it’s not only important that we attract young people into electrical engineering careers, it is also crucial that we invest in their development and support them to progress. We currently have four apprentice and trainee opportunities available in Slough, so I would encourage anybody with an interest in electrical engineering to find out more. In particular, I’d like to see more women come forward as we’re always looking to attract more female engineers and apprentices to redress the gender balance in engineering.”