SERC plumbing apprentices, Joe Dobson (20) from Castlewellan, Jonathan Gough (20) and Martin Logue (24) from Downpatrick are the first new recruits to take up a full-time gas engineering apprenticeship with Phoenix Natural Gas as the company extends its network into 13 new towns in County Down.
Phoenix Energy Services employed its first apprentice in 2002 and today over three quarters of the team have come through the apprenticeship scheme.
The company offers a first-class apprenticeship programme and the latest intake of apprentices will see an investment of over £200,000 over the next three years.
Duncan Whelan, Operations Manager of Phoenix Energy Services, explains, "With the company well underway in its project to connect 13 new towns in County Down to the natural gas network, we are delighted to welcome three new apprentices to the Phoenix Energy Services team. Over the next number of years, these three young guys will learn all about the gas trade and undertake extensive training which includes working on asset maintenance, gas utilisation, inspections and emergency repair.
"We are very proud of our apprenticeship scheme, which exists to nurture and develop talent and encourage more young people into a career within the natural gas industry and it’s something that the company is hugely committed to investing in.
"Phoenix Energy Services has always aimed to train up local people and Joe, Jonathan and Martin are great examples of how the scheme benefits not only the individual but the wider community in terms of up skilling workers and retaining local talent within a thriving industry. I look forward to mentoring the guys and seeing them develop into fully qualified gas safe engineers in the near future."
Speaking about his future with the company, Joe said, "I was very interested in getting into the gas, plumbing and heating industry and I was over the moon when I was accepted onto the Phoenix Energy Services apprenticeship scheme. I’m already thinking of my future career path and after I complete my level 2 qualification, I am keen to begin training as an emergency engineer and progress further with the company."
Former De La Salle High School pupil, Martin Logue, agreed that getting a place on the apprenticeship scheme has been invaluable, "For me, this really is a job for life and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Not only am I getting hands on experience and learning the skills of the trade as I go, but my learning is supplemented with qualifications from SERC and I am really looking forward to becoming fully qualified and starting my career as a Gas Engineer."
The youngest of the new recruits, Jonathan Gough, added, "The Phoenix Energy Services apprenticeship scheme is an excellent opportunity for me to learn new skills and get a trade under my belt. I am enjoying the variation in learning, attending a local college two days per week and also gaining on-the-job experience with a fully qualified Phoenix Energy Services Gas Engineer. It’s something I’m very proud of and I’m looking forward to seeing where my career will take me."
SERC Head of Commercial Contracts Elaine Flynn said: "This partnership between SERC and Phoenix Energy Services is a powerful demonstration of how the further education and private sector can work together for the benefit of the local economy and design a bespoke programme to help match the skills employers need. SERC is committed to working with employers to ensure they have the skilled workforce they need, both now and for the future."