Jade Kimpton, an apprentice substation engineer at National Grid, said the energy industry offers great career paths for young people. 

National Grid is transforming the UK’s electricity transmission network with The Great Grid Upgrade – a nationwide investment programme aimed at achieving the government’s target of connecting 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.

In East Anglia, the organisation is developing proposals for a new overhead electricity line between existing substations in Norwich (Norfolk), Bramford (Suffolk) and Tilbury (Essex), as well as a new substation in Tendring (Essex) and a new overhead line between Bramford and Twinstead Tee in Essex.

Public consultation has also closed for Sea Link, a proposed largely offshore 145km cable connection between Kent and Suffolk.

This essential work will ensure cleaner, greener and more affordable energy can be transported from offshore wind farms to homes and businesses across East Anglia and the UK.

As new energy projects are developed across the East and other parts of the country, there’s never been a more exciting time to join the industry.

National Grid offers a number of apprenticeships for people looking to pursue a rewarding career.

With opportunities to earn as you learn and gain valuable hands-on experience, the apprenticeships offer a great alternative to a university degree.

Jade Kimpton joined National Grid straight from sixth form as an apprentice substation engineer – after completing A-levels in physics, biology and art.

“I was quite interested in environmental science and climate change, but I also enjoyed physics and engineering,” said Jade, who lives in King’s Lynn.

“I looked at various university courses – and then someone told me about apprenticeships. I started looking on the government website and saw the apprenticeship at National Grid. It sounded ideal for me because it combined my passion for the environment with engineering.”

It was also a chance for Jade to follow in her father’s footsteps.

“My dad has worked in the energy sector for 43 years – he joined National Grid when it was still known as the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB),” she said.

“The apprenticeship that I am on is similar to the scheme which my dad joined when he was younger. I hope to follow in his footsteps and become a commissioning engineer.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Jade is responsible for maintaining equipment at National Grid’s substations in Norwich and WalpoleJade is responsible for maintaining equipment at National Grid’s substations in Norwich and Walpole (Image: National Grid)
Jade is now in the final year of her three-year apprenticeship, which means she spends most of her time close to home and on site at the National Grid substations in Norwich and Walpole.

She is responsible for establishing safety and maintaining substation equipment, where electricity is converted into different voltages so it can be transmitted throughout the country.

“It’s important that we maintain our substation equipment because it ensures they are more reliable in service; this then reduces the likelihood of any equipment failures,” said Jade. “And that ultimately ensures the UK has a reliable supply of electricity.”

In the first year of the apprenticeship, Jade completed a foundation degree in electrical power engineering at Aston University in Birmingham.

The practical elements of the course have seen her visit other National Grid sites across the UK.

“I’ve been able to travel across the UK to complete my logbook, which has allowed me to work in various locations such as Newcastle and London,” said Jade. “It’s interesting to see different parts of the UK, and to learn about the various substation layouts and equipment.

“The element I’ve enjoyed the most has been working with the different teams,” she added. “It’s been great to meet all the engineers and crafts persons – they’ve been brilliant and helped a lot with my training.”

There are still fewer women than men working in the engineering sector – but in the three years that Jade has worked at National Grid, she’s already seen more women join the industry.

“We have recently had some more female apprentices join our team, which is great to see!” she said.

For more information on careers at National Grid, please visit nationalgrid.com/careers

Braintree and Witham Times:

This article is part of LOCALiQ's Clean & Green campaign, which aims to promote our region as the biggest in the UK and Europe for all forms of renewable energy.