Smart meter roll-out gives chef new career

Smart meter trainee Oliver Boarer said his new career will give him more time with his family
Smart meter trainee Oliver Boarer said his new career will give him more time with his family

A FORMER army chef has turned his life around with the help of a new training programme.

Shoreham dad Oliver Boarer wanted more time with his family, so he retrained as an electrician with UK Power Networks.

The 41-year-old explained: “The working hours of chefs aren’t suited to family life and now I’m married with two children I wanted a job that was more family orientated.”

The opportunity came with UK Power Networks, Britain’s biggest electricity distribution company, as it prepares for the transition to smart metering.

Mr Boarer, of Greenways Crescent, is one of 17 new recruits taken on by the company, which keeps the lights on across London, the south east and East Anglia.

His new career has just started with six months’ formal core training, which will be followed by a year of hands-on experience at Lewes, one of the company’s regional bases.

As a smart meter intervention specialist, he will deal with any problems that arise during the changeover period from old meters to new.

Mr Boarer, who served in the armed forces for six years and was a restaurant chef for hotel chains, said: “At school I liked working on circuit boards and electrics so the interest was there.

“UK Power Networks is investing in their staff training. In the future, I’d like to become a fully-qualified jointer working on low and high-voltage cables. I’d like the opportunity to become an engineer in the company, moving up the career ladder as far as I can.”

By 2020, the vast majority of UK Power Networks’ eight million customers will be equipped with a smart meter by their energy suppliers.

The programme is now in its foundation stage and will be in full swing by the end of next year. The national roll-out is being led by energy suppliers but UK Power Networks will ensure the smart meters can be safely connected to the network.

Paul Morris, UK Power Networks’ smart meter intervention planning manager, said: “The challenge is quite significant and we will be kept very busy during the roll-out. These trainees have done very well to get on this programme as it was a rigorous recruitment process with some tough assessments.

“We needed people with some basic electrical or engineering knowledge but also with customer service skills. These apprentices will be going into our customers’ homes and we had to get the right people for the job.

“It was great to see their enthusiasm at their induction day. They met people who have worked for the company for years – and for some of them, too, this could be a job for life, supporting the development of more intelligent electricity networks.”