Apprenticeship programme leads to full-time roles at Belco
Five Bermudian participants in Belco’s apprenticeship programme have been hired full-time at the power generation company.
Belco said the programme is a four/five-year initiative that includes a year-and-a-half to two-and-a-half-years of schooling. The remainder of the time is spent on the job, training.
Apprentices are paid a full salary with benefits while attending school overseas.
Na’eem Griffith, Jahniya Richardson, Lezano Hewey-Darrell, and Kevin Adams have completed their schooling, while Jahkari Tucker is scheduled to complete his schooling this summer having been delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Tucker is working in bulk generation at Belco, while the other four employees are working in grid operations.
They are working on their job cards, and are scheduled to complete their training in 2023, Belco said. The five were among eight apprentices who started the programme in June, 2018.
Belco’s most recent apprentices, Judah Chapman and Selwyn Berkeley, began their coursework online last October due to Covid-19 restrictions before leaving the island to attend Uniper Engineering Academy in Nottingham, England, on December 30, with classes commencing January 4.
Mr Chapman, who started with the company as a summer intern, has been hired as an electrical maintenance apprentice, while Mr Berkeley joined Belco in 2020 working in bulk generation and has now transitioned from a position as mechanical maintenance helper to the mechanical maintenance apprentice role.
Belco said it invests an average of $100,000 per apprentice during the term of the programme, including schooling, travel, lodging, food, and more.
The apprentices work in their assigned departments and discipline and complete their job cards – a list of tasks that the apprentice must complete as part of their on the job training. Each discipline has a different set of cards.
Each job card, once complete, moves the apprentice to the next level. Apprentices start as a helper, and work through several levels from grades 2 training worker standard and experienced worker standard to grade 1 training worker standard, and culminating in grade 1 experienced worker standard when their apprenticeship will be completed.
Belco’s 2018 apprentices attended the Western Power Distribution training school in the UK between September 2018 and November 2019. It is one of the biggest and best-equipped facilities for the provision of skills and operation training for the electricity distribution industry, Belco said.
Western Power is the electricity distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West and Wales, delivering electricity to more than 7.9 million customers over a 55,500 square kilometre service area and having a staff of more than 6,500.
Western Power’s training is only suitable for people already employed in the electricity distribution industry, Belco said.
The company added that Uniper, where Mr Chapman and Mr Berkeley are studying, 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.
Belco said students benefit from training that is delivered in real-life settings in a training centre that provides engineering workshops, a live high voltage network, switch rooms and power plant simulators. Each year they support about 70 apprentices.
Dennis Pimentel, president of Belco, 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.”
Belco said 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.