Working life

Discover what engineering graduates think about working life at Welsh Water

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Engineering employees at Welsh Water shared their expertise and experiences with potential future colleagues at a GTI-hosted webinar last month, getting them ready to apply to be part of the new graduate cohort. If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry: here’s your handy breakdown of the insights and tips given to attendees.

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Diversity of work

With 836 sewage works and 131 reservoirs to work on, the world (or Wales) is your oyster as an engineering graduate at Welsh Water.

Principal Civil Engineer Gareth Humphreys, who has worked at the company for eleven years, explained: ‘Welsh Water spends roughly a million pounds per day on capital engineering projects in and around Wales. It is part of a £1.5 billion investment programme. So, it's a high volume of work and there are lots and lots of opportunities to be part of that.’

This level of diversity means graduates have some freedom when choosing what they work on. Andrew Stanford, an electrical engineer graduate who has worked at the company for six years, commented: ‘One of the great things about the graduate programme is I was able to direct my placements. So, if there was anything I wanted to learn more about or felt would help with my career, they were on board in putting me in that area of their business.’

Support to learn and develop

‘Welsh Water is continuously looking to develop their engineers,’ said Nicky Cursio, a mechanical engineering graduate who has been at the company for six years. ‘They sponsored me to do my masters degree in engineering management, which allowed me to learn without having the stress of student debts. The company also supports you to gain chartership in your chosen institution.’

Gareth explained that every new role he had was a step up in the organisation. He put this down to a mix of support and learning experiences: ‘You’re not thrown into the deep end, as there’s plenty of support, training and mentoring. On the other hand, the opportunities are there – you can have a positive impact on important projects really quickly at Welsh Water.’

If you’d like to develop an extra skill, in addition to those your training provides, Welsh Water allows its graduates to apply for a course to complete in work time as long as it is work-related in some way. The company also gives training and support to anyone learning Welsh, if language-learning is your thing.

Care for customers, colleagues and climate

Graduates will be making these positive impacts by helping to devise innovative solutions to problems, which will often mean thinking about wider issues such as the environment as well as practicability and costs.

One of the problems Nicky grappled with was moving water downstream in an environmentally friendly and inexpensive way: ‘The obvious option would be pumping the water, which would cost a lot and be bad for the environment because of the diesel used. The solution we came up with was to create a vacuum within the pipe work, which pulled the surface of the water up from the reservoir and over the dam wall. It was successful, sustainable and cost effective.’

For Gareth, one of the main things that sets Welsh Water apart from other water companies is the fact that it is a not-for-profit organisation. This means all proceeds from customers are either invested in infrastructure, customer service or colleagues.

Applications for the graduate scheme

If you’re keen to be the next colleague for the engineers you’ve heard from, here’s a run-down of how recruiter Jodie Evans described the application process to those at the webinar.

The first step is to apply via the Welsh Water website, which includes uploading a CV and inputting some information about yourself; there is no cover letter at this stage. The second step is an online test for numerical and verbal reasoning.

The third stage is an in-person assessment centre, which can vary slightly but tends to include a group exercise to gauge communication and teamwork skills and one or two interviews.

There tend to be two interviews when there are lots of candidates. In this case, there will be one initial interview after which recruiters will decide who goes to the next round, followed by a more in-depth one with the manager.

Gareth shared his tips for what he looks for in an employee, and Will Chidley – a civil engineering graduate who has been at the company for about a year – gave his thoughts on how he got there.

For Gareth, a willingness and an enthusiasm to learn were the two most important characteristics to bring to the role of engineer. He explained: ‘We will know from your CV that you have that base academic knowledge. Then we want to see how you get involved and learn about the water industry – because if you show aptitude and attitude, there are loads of opportunities in this business.’

Watch the full webinar if you'd like to know more about working life at Welsh Water .

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