Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (‘BELCO’ or the ‘Company’) today provided an update on the Apprenticeship Programme that is benefiting young Bermudians.
The BELCO apprenticeship is a four/five-year programme which includes a year and a half to two and half years of schooling with the remainder of the time spent on the job training. Apprentices are paid a full salary with benefits whilst overseas in school.
BELCO makes a substantial financial commitment, investing on average $100,000 per apprentice during the term of the programme. This includes schooling, travel, lodging, food and more.
During the Programme, apprentices work in their assigned departments and discipline and complete their job cards – a list of tasks that the apprentice must complete – essentially on the job training. There is a different set of cards for each discipline. Each job card, once completed, moves the apprentice to the next level up. Apprentices begin as a Helper and work their way up through several levels from Grades 2 Training Worker Standard (TWS) and Experienced Worker Standard (EWS) to Grade 1 TWS and culminating in Grade 1 EWS when their apprenticeship will be completed.
In June, 2018, eight apprentices started the programme with five completing their schooling. Four went on to work in Grid Operations and one in Bulk Generation. These five apprentices are now full-time employees at BELCO, are working on their job cards and are scheduled to complete their training in 2023.
The 2018 apprentices attended the Western Power Distribution Training School in the UK between September, 2018 and November, 2019. Western Power Distribution Training operates one of the biggest and best-equipped facilities for the provision of skills and operation training for the electricity distribution industry.
They are the electricity distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West and Wales, delivering electricity to over 7.9 million customers over a 55,500 square kilometres service area and employ over 6,500 staff. Most of their training is only suitable for persons already employed in the Electricity Distribution Industry.
Participants in the 2018/19 programme who have now completed their schooling and have been hired full-time at BELCO include Naeem Griffith, Jahniya Richardson, Lezano Hewey-Darrell, Kevin Adams and Jahkari Tucker who is scheduled to complete his schooling this summer.
The two most recent apprentices, Judah Chapman, who started with the Company as a summer intern, and Selwyn Berkeley came on board in 2020 working in Bulk Generation. One was hired as an Electrical Maintenance Apprentice while the other was already employed as a Mechanical Maintenance Helper and recently transitioned to the Mechanical Maintenance Apprentice role.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these two apprentices began their coursework online in October, 2020, leaving Bermuda to attend Uniper Engineering Academy, Nottingham, UK, on 30th December, 2020 with classes beginning on 4th January, 2021.
Uniper offers innovative and engaging technical training for the engineering, manufacturing and energy sectors and have a great track record in supporting apprenticeships, playing a key role in developing the engineers of the future. Students benefit from training that is delivered in real-life settings in a training center that provides engineering workshops, a live high voltage network, switch rooms and powerplant simulators. Each year they support about 70 apprentices.
BELCO President Dennis Pimentel said: “I started as an apprentice in 1989 and continued my professional development and education to achieve an electrical engineering degree and chartership with the support from the company allowing me to qualify for and fill numerous roles over the years culminating in the role of President. Our current apprentices are hard-working, dedicated members of the BELCO team. We’re proud of our Company history of promoting professional and personal development and offering apprentices a variety of careers with training beginning at the introductory level and continuing as high as they aspire to achieve. Apprentices also benefit from job security, satisfaction and comprehensive company benefits.”
Career apprentices have gone on to work in jobs that include electrician, mechanical, environmental, technician, power and plant engineers, power system electrician, millwrights (mechanics), machinist, welder and power lineman.