Q&A with Sam Middlemas - HR Programme Manager

working for us

What made you decide to pursue an apprenticeship?

After a few temporary jobs post-education, I found myself wondering what to do next. I then heard by word of mouth to look at National Grid Transco (now Cadent) and walked into the Hinckley HQ just before Christmas in 2005.

I applied for a role in what I thought would be a stopgap period for me to work out what I wanted to do. I started out working in office roles, but soon realised I’d like to understand the technical side of the gas industry and learn a trade, which led to me applying for a Repair apprenticeship.

I had the realisation that I could earn whilst I learn,  gain relevant, real-world experience and to top it off, get a nationally recognised Level 3 NVQ qualification.  

How did taking an apprenticeship benefit your career?

After completing my apprenticeship, I worked as Repair Team Leader for 5 years before returning to Hinckley to work in our Scheduling & Dispatch team. I wanted to take the knowledge that I had learned from being a hands-on engineer back into centre and make a difference.

I was in Scheduling & Dispatch for 3 years, before I decided it was time to move on and try something new. In November, 2018 I applied for my current role in HR as a Programme Manager for the Engineering Training Programme and Education & Skills. In the first 6 months, I also had the opportunity to run the Graduate and Industrial Placement Programmes to cover for a colleague who took sabbatical leave.   

Taking an apprenticeship gave me the technical and commercial skills that I needed in order to succeed as a future leader in the business. Doing an apprenticeship has also helped me to build up my network, which has been very useful since entering my more recent job roles.

What does your day-to-day role involve?

My day-to-day role is made up of two halves:
Engineering Training Programme: I ensure that our learners follow a programme that best equips them to succeed. During the scheme, I conduct reviews to monitor their progress, behaviour and competence, where I test both their technical knowledge and their business knowledge. This allows me to feed back to their line managers and senior managers on how they are developing.

I also continually review the scheme and the training courses within it. Each year, we take on engineers in different business areas, so I am always reviewing the relevance of courses for each individual in relation to the role which they will be doing in the long run. I also manage the relationship between Cadent and our education provider, Solihull College, and I have created gas-specific HNC college material. 
Education & Skills: I am responsible for the planning, coordination and day-to-day delivery of our Education & Skills programme. This includes engagement with  Schools, colleges, universities, and our delivery partners. The main focus is to inspire young people from all backgrounds into a career in engineering, and advise them on the different entry points into full-time employment after education. 

In doing so, I am supporting our communities, whilst looking to attract future employees from a diverse talent pool. This is helping to create a prosperous future for our businesses and the communities we serve.

What did you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

Two things stand out for me: recognising how far I had come from the start to the finish of the scheme, and making a few really good friends who have become friends for life.   

What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing an apprenticeship?

Choose an apprenticeship in a career sector that interests you, which also has the potential for progression in the long term. Always be respectful of others, and always ask questions. I believe that everybody learns at different speeds, and as a learner no question is a stupid one – be honest and enthusiastic, and you’ll set yourself up for a successful career. 

Apprenticeships at Cadent

We have a range of apprenticeship opportunies at Cadent, which will be opening for applications soon.


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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