Setting you up for a bright future: EDF’s training, development and support

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Discover how EDF invests in your future to ensure you are fully ready for a successful career, combining groundbreaking projects, training at cutting-edge facilities, softer skills development and networking. Four high-flying employees give you the inside track.

Profile pictures of the four EDF employees in this article: Sandy Kelly, Jenny Upton, Cole Chesterton and Humza Ali Nadeem

EDF is brilliantly placed to provide interesting work and successful graduate careers in the energy market. It is the biggest generator of zero carbon electricity in Britain and aims to help Britain reach net zero.

‘No other company can offer the same opportunities as EDF can, especially as a graduate,’ says Jenny Upton, who is just finishing the science and engineering graduate scheme. Fellow science and engineering graduate Cole Chesterton agrees: ‘EDF is the dream employer for my desired career path.’

You don’t need to be an engineer to gain the same sense of purpose. ‘The work is one of the best things about EDF,’ reflects Sandy Kelly, who finished the commercial graduate programme in September 2022. ‘We’re all passionate about helping Britain achieve net zero.’ Indeed, Humza Ali Nadeem, who is now a project manager within the business change & IT area of the business and was previously on the graduate programme, sees how his work contributes to EDF’s ambition directly. ‘Through implementing and delivering technological changes internally and for our customers, my team is helping to transform Britain into a net zero nation.’

But it’s not just the work that should appeal. It’s the training and development on offer – something that Cole thinks is so good it should be shouted from the rooftops. ‘EDF puts a whole structure around you to transition from being a student to a fully formed professional,’ he says. ‘You receive technical training, industry-specific training, support with personal development, and invitations to global conferences, networking events and socials.’

In addition to all of these resources, EDF has a host of active network groups that enable you to gain support and forge valuable relationships across the business. These include networks for race and cultural equality, LGBTQ+ and supporters, disability and carers, and mental health, through to working parents, cancer support and forces support networks.

Many graduates join the young professionals network (YPN). Humza Ali Nadeem is the chair of the network and Jenny, Cole and Sandy are all members. In this article, they discuss what EDF has to offer in terms of training, development and career prospects – not least through the YPN.

Graduate programmes structured with your learning in mind

The graduate programmes are structured around rotational placements, designed to give you a good understanding of all aspects of your chosen discipline before deciding where to specialise. The final placement is in your future specialism, allowing you to transition from graduate to experienced professional easily.

‘My scheme offers the chance to move around the country and experience different engineering roles,’ Jenny says. ‘I have undertaken placements ranging from commissioning the pump house at Hinkley Point C and testing and maintaining operations at the power plant at Sizewell B, to developing training on nuclear safety and reviewing documentation for new technologies.’

The structure enables frequent on-the-job learning opportunities. ‘You are learning the whole time you are on the scheme,’ Jenny continues. ‘When I was on an operating station, most days I would get onto plant and see the systems in person. At Sizewell, I was trained to enter radiologically contaminated areas and perform some routines that operatives performed.’

Sandy’s commercial graduate programme saw him rotating between business-focused placements across the customers, renewable and nuclear new build divisions. He now works in wholesale market services, helping to bring flexible generation assets (power sources that can switch on and off as needed and are therefore more energy efficient) onto the grid. And it was the structure of the graduate programme that helped his development. ‘Rotating into a new role, teams and subject matter every six months was really useful for me. I’m a practical learner, and shifting my focus so frequently pushed me to understand how I learn, what I like doing and ultimately where I wanted to take my career after the scheme. It also improved my learning agility and resilience.’

A couple of years on from the graduate scheme, Humza has seen how the rotational programme benefited his development. ‘The four rotations provided me with a fantastic insight into not only our organisation but also the wider energy industry – and the skills I developed have been directly relevant to my current role,’ he says. ‘For example, in my very first placement with EDF’s Blue Lab, which focuses on building relationships with innovators and start-ups, I developed stakeholder management and rapport-building skills that I use every day as a project manager.’

Expert training courses are tailored to your work

As you would expect, all on-the-job learning supplements the formal courses and qualifications that are not only essential in this sector, but also accelerate your career progression. Sandy’s combined a focus on his industry understanding with his business skills. ‘I attended webinars, workshops, courses and conferences,’ he remembers. ‘These primarily focused on developing my knowledge of the energy sector, energy markets and accounting fundamentals. I also have access to LinkedIn Learning and EDFs Learning for All scheme, which I’ve used to develop my coding and project management skills.’

Similarly, Cole and Jenny completed modules on the fundamentals of nuclear power before being sent on other training tailored to their work. ‘You are given a training programme from day one that is refined as you progress,’ says Cole. ‘When I was on my commissioning placement, I went on a two-week flow loop simulation course, in which there is a big flow loop training rig that is completely designed for testing and simulation. I learned how to change pipework and test equipment using really high-spec equipment. It was fascinating and I went on it because I was doing well on the placement and the team would benefit from having that further training.’

While Cole’s simulation course was in Somerset, Jenny was sent further afield. ‘While I was on my placement in nuclear safety culture, I attended a week-long training course at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on the effective use of operational experience and continuous improvement programmes at nuclear power plants,’ she recalls. ‘It was a fantastic opportunity to learn, network and feed back to the project.’

Global conferences build skills and connections

EDF encourages its graduates to attend the industry-wide Global Forum for Nuclear Innovation. ‘As graduates, we got to experience all of this knowledge sharing and have chats with professionals from all over the world,’ says Cole. ‘But we also actively contributed by presenting to a room full of the delegates. It was pretty nerve-racking to present to nuclear professionals with 20+ years’ experience, but it really helped develop my confidence in public speaking.’ For Jenny, contributing to sessions at this conference led her to facilitating a meeting for the IAE, through which she got to meet more professionals from across the world.

The YPN expands knowledge and horizons

Outside of the day job, EDF’s Young Professional Network (YPN) enables more informal learning, lots of networking and lots of opportunities to have fun. ‘We’re always looking to grow and broaden our horizons,’ says Humza, who chairs the network. ‘Over the past year, we’ve developed and hosted a series of events and podcasts, welcoming speakers from inside and outside of EDF to discuss topics such as the cost of living crisis and fuel security, and encouraged senior leaders to share their personal stories and career journeys. This has broadened out into a series of “Let’s Talk” events, which have focused on mental health. We’ve also put a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion. Too often it is seen as a box-ticking exercise, but we’ve collaborated closely with other networks to put on meaningful events.’

Cole, Jenny and Sandy are all members of the YPN and find it both enjoyable and useful. ‘Its motto is “learn, lead and connect” and I feel it covers all three areas well,’ says Sandy. He points to the webinars covering areas of working life that you otherwise might not think much about, such as explaining pensions and why they’re valuable. Cole, meanwhile, points to the social occasions and the opportunities to raise money for charity. Through the YPN, he and his colleagues took part in the Tough Mudder obstacle course and raised £1,000 for the YPN’s affiliated charity. By being involved with the YPN, he is also developing his confidence – for example, he has organised a return to his university to talk about opportunities at EDF. Jenny, meanwhile, appreciates the opportunities to get to know graduates of all different backgrounds.

A supportive culture leads to great career prospects

All of this adds up to a supportive culture in which you can progress your career. Jenny says, ‘From my experiences so far, I feel that the company cares about my future and wants to help nurture my skills.’ This doesn’t only come from the training opportunities provided, but from the environment created by her colleagues: ‘Everyone was warm and welcoming from the very start of the scheme. It’s daunting moving into different teams on each rotation, but each team was friendly, exceedingly happy to help and enthusiastic about what we were there to achieve (helping Britain reach net zero).’ Sandy agrees, adding: ‘Every team I’ve worked in has been respectful of everybody’s time, energy and ideas.’

For Cole, an important point is that the company culture practises what it preaches, not only in terms of the safety-first culture but in terms of development opportunities. ‘EDF invests in you on the graduate programme. The whole idea is for you to progress to leadership positions. A number of our directors started out as graduates,’ he says. ‘The progression opportunities are amazing and very flexible. If you want to stay in the UK you can, or there are opportunities to work in France.’

Humza sees his future with the business. 'I would like to bring about positive change in my career, to challenge existing ways of working and to find creative solutions to some of the most interesting challenges of our time,’ he says. ‘Ultimately, I’d like to be a leader within the organisation and to support EDF’s vision for a net zero future.’ He feels that the graduate programme has helped him to develop the right mindset for success: ‘Liaising with such a diverse range of colleagues and stakeholders enabled me to develop a mindset of always challenging the status quo. My time at Blue Lab, in particular, highlighted the value in ”thinking outside the box” and finding creative solutions to issues.’ This is something that he is able to do in his current role, as he focuses on high-profile projects such as working with senior leaders to mitigate financial risks across key business divisions.

All four of our interviewees agree that there are so many opportunities across EDF – whether you want to focus on renewables, increase technical skills or make an impact in a business role, there is something for everyone.

Find out more about working at EDF and its vacancies on the EDF organisation hub .

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