Britain’s biggest energy company Centrica hopes to recruit as many as 500 former soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel into engineering roles across British Gas and the parent group by the end of 2023, easing its transition to Net Zero.

The first intake of 12 ex-forces trainee gas engineers have begun their 42 week training, and should provide a template recruiting programme which the trainers can scale up later in the year.

Alex Smith, 33, from Wolverhampton, pictured, a former sniper with the 2 Rifles based in Northern Ireland, is one. Medically discharged in 2013 after two IED explosions in Afghanistan damaged his hearing and eyesight and left him with PTSD, Alex said he sees the programme as his route back to normality.

“I have always wanted a trade and this offer was amazing”, he said. “It’s a skill to be proud of, which will give me stability in my working life to provide for my family and it opens up lot of routes for progression into green energy.”

Veterans Minister Leo Docherty MP supports the initiative. “This is a fantastic initiative that will provide support to our service leavers and veterans by helping them find employment once they leave the military.

“I am delighted with the opportunity this provides to those who have served our nation’s military and recognises that the military gives you skills for life.”

The ex-forces programme will be run in-house, following the Matero template, with the initial emphasis on recruiting and training gas engineers.

Career changes later in life

In the week of International Women in Engineering Day, Centrica is keen to attract women into the programme, raising diversity within its workforce.  With women representing just 12 per cent of the armed forces, the combine is encouraging military spouses to apply for roles.

Amid the trend for later career changes, over half of Centrica’s apprentices are over 25 years of age.

Besides traditional boiler repair, Centrica’s 7,000 technicians work across EV charge point installations, smart meters, heat pumps and solar and battery storage projects in support of the company’s ambition to reach net zero by 2045.

Greg McKenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions is sponsoring the programme, “Supporting our customers to get to net zero is at the forefront of our plans, but we need the skilled workforce to deliver at the scale and pace necessary. The market for recruiting ex-forces has become increasingly competitive, but we plan to use our extensive heritage of delivering world-class training

Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB Union, said: “The union is pleased to work with Centrica in taking the lead by actively recruiting former service personnel into the company.

“As someone who has had family members serve in the forces, I know that this can be a difficult process but by having employers willing to work with veterans to get good jobs, it can make a really positive difference.”


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