Our Chief People Officer Martin Rimmer discusses how social mobility can help drive forward the green economy.
Earlier this year, Cadent signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge. We believe that as the UK's biggest gas distribution network, we have an obligation to not only serve our communities, but help develop them as well.
Low social mobility is both a cause and effect of growing inequalities, impacting social cohesion and growth. A lack of opportunities can have far-reaching consequences on present and future generations. As we continue to work through this COVID-19 pandemic, social mobility will become an even bigger issue, which we want to help address.
Social Mobility Pledge
Founded by former UK Cabinet Minister, Rt Hon. Justine Greening, and UK entrepreneur David Harrison, the Social Mobility Pledge represents a powerful and pioneering shift towards being a truly purpose-led organisation committed to social mobility. Organisations taking steps to boost opportunity and social mobility is more important than ever as we face the challenges of a growing opportunity gap in the wake of COVID-19. The three key elements of the Pledge are: outreach, access and recruitment.
The work Cadent is doing
With responsibility for four of the eight gas distribution networks across the UK, we recognise the responsibility we have, but also the opportunity we have in order to make a difference.
We have a number of schemes that are currently working towards improving the social mobility of the areas that we operate in, and I’ll talk about them over the coming weeks. I’ll start by explaining our school programme and how we’re helping to encourage the next generation of Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) students.
1) STEM enrichment
As part of our STEM enrichment strategy, Cadent visits the schools it has partnerships with and introduces two of its senior female engineers as ambassadors. The activities are linked to the curriculum but focus on demonstrating how science and engineering are exciting when applied to the ‘real world’.
2) Careers inspiration
This strand of the programme offers students careers guidance, covering the various routes into engineering, including apprenticeships.
The aim is to encourage young people to think about the range of pathways available to them and to actively challenge preconceptions about apprenticeships.
Through online and telephone mentoring, Cadent ambassadors and the Youth Ambassador programme, a personal rapport can be nurtured and tailored to the pupil’s interest.
3) Work experience
Cadent is in the process of developing two structured experience programmes to see young people gain practical, hands-on experience:
- The generalist programme provides an overall sight of business structure and processes, which is ideal for those interested in business support roles
- The operational programme gives insight into Operations tools, equipment and processes, which is ideal for aspiring apprentices.
In addition, we are working towards providing opportunities to support employees who want to arrange ad hoc work experience.
Social mobility through apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are one of the most effective and impactful means of boosting social mobility for individuals from poorer backgrounds – if those from the least privileged backgrounds access the opportunities and progress through them.
Cadent has five apprenticeship programmes: Emergency, Repair, Pressure Control and Storage, Electrical and Instrumentation, and Team Leader. Many of our apprenticeships progress into technical positions, for instance as a Gas Network Team Leader (Level 2).
Cadent contributes to the wider sector through collaboration with Energy and Utility Skills and through membership with the Apprentice and Technical Education Advisory Group.
In 2019/20, Cadent introduced non-technical programmes, which included a degree apprenticeship and a new commercial trainee programme incorporating the Associate Project Management Apprenticeship. As part of our talent development focus, we also launched the Team Leader Apprenticeship at Level 2.
With such a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities, we are reaching out and supporting a wide range of people and skills. Recruiting around fifty apprentices every year, we were delighted to have been voted the number one company for apprenticeships by The JobCrowd and in the Top 100 Company for graduates in the Energy & Utilities sector, where we came top in the best Apprentice Employer category.
Moving forward, we recognise we have work to do, especially as we continue to navigate through the impact of COVID-19. But I’m confident that the Cadent workforce can continue to deliver and help support our communities.