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Local MP and Environment Minister meets local apprentices at WPD training centre

Left to right: Taunton MP Rebecca Pow, overhead lines apprentice Daniel Hall, overhead lines apprentice Adam Fielding, cable jointer apprentice Matt Saunders, instructor Henry Wilkins

Taunton MP and Environment and Flooding Minister Rebecca Pow has visited Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) training facility in Taunton to find out more about its industry-leading apprenticeship programme and to meet local apprentices.

During the visit, Ms Pow heard how WPD – the electricity network distribution operator for the Midlands, South West and South Wales – is championing green jobs by offering skilled opportunities for young people across the South West through its apprenticeship programme based at Taunton. In the last 10 years, WPD has on average trained 120 new trainees per year including Craft Apprentices, across its network.

Ms Pow was given an insight into the day-to-day operations of the local WPD team, including its work to support local constituents by maintaining the network, responding to power outages and planning new connections for low carbon technologies like electric vehicle chargers and heat pumps.

While WPD has training facilities across its licence areas, the Taunton facility specialises in craft apprenticeships including, underground jointing, overhead line and fitter roles, which are essential to build and maintain the local energy network. During the visit, trainees talked to the MP about the apprenticeship programme and the type of skills they are developing. The Taunton facility is also the largest of its kind and hosts not only WPD apprentices but also apprentices from other distribution network operators.

Speaking after her visit, Ms Pow said: “It was most encouraging to meet some of the young people engaged in the crucial and growing electricity industry as it continues to play a key role in the UK reaching net zero. Green jobs provide the bridge between setting our climate targets and achieving our ambitions and it’s excellent to see WPD leading the way through its apprenticeship programme both in Taunton and across its licence areas.”

WPD’s engineering training manager Theresa McConville added: “Our Taunton training facility grants young individuals the freedom to create a highly rewarding lifelong career that will enable them to play a key role in the UK’s post-carbon economy."

Our facilities are first class and allow apprentices to gain the essential skills they need to operate the network including connecting low carbon technologies, ensuring the network is resilient and increasing flexibility on the grid. Safety is also a core component of our training and all trainees are taught the latest safety protocols.

In its Business Plan for 2023 - 28, WPD is proposing to invest £6bn across its network, including £347m a year in the South West, to meet the future needs of communities, businesses and energy consumers and deliver net zero by 2050. WPD will continue to invest in staff development and its workforce resilience programme to ensure its employees have the relevant skills in the evolving energy sector.

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