The cyber security threat facing the water utility sector

October 11, 2018

The impact of ignoring a skills gap in your organisation

In the day-to-day operations of your business, it can be easy to misjudge the extent of any skills gaps, perhaps presuming the individuals will learn on-the-job and underestimate the need for more formal training. Unfortunately, for most of the time, those skills gaps remain and a potentially much bigger problem may materialise in the future.

So what is the real impact of ignoring a skills shortage? For water utility companies, who are part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, the damage can be costly and long-term, whilst impacting profitability, productivity and efficiency.

As an employer, skills issues can vastly reduce your ability to respond to customer needs and stay ahead of future issues. They can also reduce your ability to adopt new technologies or to meet targets and future plans. Skills have long been associated as one of the key reasons for the UK’s so-called “productivity gap” with other economies.

At Watertrain, we have been delivering the nationally-accredited CABWI water-related qualifications since 2007 and many hundreds of candidates have been successful in attaining their knowledge and/or competency qualifications with us. These qualifications range from Level 2 to Level 4 and include subjects such as Water Treatment, Waste Water, Water Distribution, Process Operations, Water Supply Network, and Water Industry Operations & Management.

Sometimes it may not be the case that someone in your organisation is lacking the right skills or you have a vacancy that you simply cannot fill. However, both can lead to increased workloads and stress for other employees due to a resource and skills ‘mismatch’. In this case, an apprenticeship may be a suitable option to resolve the issue.

Everyone is familiar with apprenticeships. Historically thought of as just an entry point for a young person into many skills-based industries, but apprenticeships are now widely used to increase the knowledge and skills of existing staff. Many water companies use apprenticeships to train and coach people in their organisations. With the new employer-led Standard, apprenticeship pathways have been developed to ensure the right skills, knowledge and behaviours for their operations can be delivered, so meeting sector needs and the needs of the economy more broadly.

Alex Larke, our apprentice currently at Northumbrian Water as a Strategic Network Technician, speaks of his apprenticeship:

“I’ve been here just over a year now, I was a bit worried at the start but everyone welcomed me with open arms. I’ve enjoyed it and every day is different. I’ve got to understand how water gets from the treatment works to the customer’s taps, there’s so much behind it and I am willing to learn and keep carrying on.”

If you are unsure as to where your existing skills gaps are, Watertrain can provide an excellent competency assessment tool to help identify current weaknesses in the level of knowledge being applied by operational teams across your business. This assessment process then provides a very effective Training Needs Analysis, optimising budget spend and targeting training interventions.

About Watertrain

Watertrain have been the leading provider of apprenticeships and other qualifications to the water utility sector since 2007 and have a long track record of delivering apprenticeships for clients in the Water Utility sector.

Based in Birchwood Park, Warrington, you can contact Watertrain on 03330 431 431 or email info@watertrain.co.uk. Visit watertrain.co.uk for more information.