The Utilities Industry can be defined as ‘companies that provide the following utility services; electrical power, natural gas, steam supply, water supply and sewage removal.’ It could also arguably be said that telecommunications and even transport and road systems could also be viewed as a utilities.
Since privatization throughout the 1990’s the utilities industry in the UK has undergone radical change. This period of transformation is essentially characterized by large-scale consolidation into larger multinational groupings, large investments in IT and infrastructure along with further deregulation. Whereas Utility companies used to generally specialize in one of the three exclusive segments (electricity, gas or water), as the UK market opened up so companies involved in one specialty began developing their businesses in other utility segments.
There are literally hundreds of important positions waiting to be filled within this multi-billion pound sector. The range of opportunities at extremely competitive wage rates within the Utilities Industry is huge. Opportunities in Environmental science, construction, design, project management and quantity surveying as well as a range of management, administrative and sales roles all span the industry. Perhaps the most wide-ranging type of position though is that of an engineer.
For example, there are approximately 300 telecoms-related employers in the UK alone, for example BT, Cable and Wireless, AOL and Orange all looking for appropriately skilled engineers. The nuclear industries in a number of countries including the UK and China are looking to recruit thousands of construction and engineering specialists over the next few years.
In the course of their jobs most electrical engineers will enjoy working in a multi-disciplinary project team, including engineers from other specialties as well as architects, marketing and sales staff, manufacturers, technicians and customer service personnel. Often engineers are involved from the initial the concept and detail of projects and designs through to implementation, testing and handover. Opportunities exist in the Utilities industry for all forms of electrical, mechanical, civil and geotechnical engineering jobs with a range of responsibilities including:
* Identifying customer requirements;
* Designing systems and products;
* Reading design specifications and technical drawings;
* Researching suitable solutions and estimating costs and timescales;
* Making models and prototypes of products;
* Working to BS and EN standards;
* Liaising with others in the design team;
* Liaising with clients and contractors;
* Attending meetings on site;
* Designing and conducting tests;
* Recording, analysing and interpreting test data;
* Proposing modifications and retesting products;
* Qualifying the final product or system;
* Servicing and maintaining equipment;
* Preparing product documentation, writing reports and giving presentations;
* Monitoring a product in use so as to improve on future design
These days, increasing numbers of engineers of all persuasions are supporting power utilities and undertaking work that is related to sustainable energy. Concern over the safety and sustainability of current energy sources has led to developments in alternative energy such as wind, waves and tidal power. This new front has opened the door for many more career opportunities related to environmental science and matters environment related. Many chemical engineers now even call themselves environmental engineers due to their commitment to sustainable energy production.