Sparkling achievement


A North East water supplier is setting the standard for best practice in the UK water industry.

Northumbrian Water Limited, which supplies water and wastewater services to 2.6 million customers across the North East trading as Northumbrian Water, and water services to 1.8 million customers in Essex and Suffolk trading as Essex & Suffolk Water, is the first water and sewerage company in the UK to ensure all production operators in its treatment plants meet the requirements of the Competent Operator Framework.

UK water companies signed up to the Competent Operator Framework in 2006, to ensure that all operatives across the UK carry out water treatment work to the same national standards.

All 138 Northumbrian Water Limited employees who work at a treatment works are now recognised as ‘competent operators’ and have achieved a nationally recognised qualification, NVQ Level 2 in Operating Process Plant.

This qualification, which is designed around the skills and knowledge people use in their jobs, has been developed specifically to meet the national occupational standards set by the water, electricity, gas and waste management industries to achieve competent operator status.

Production team leader, Andrew Hindmarsh who is 29, lives in Throckley, Newcastle upon Tyne and works at a treatment works in Durham City, said: “I am very proud to have achieved a national qualification. To be the first company to ensure everyone is competent is testament to the fact that I work for a company that values and invests in its employees.”

David Hellier, head of sector engagement at Energy & Utility Skills, the sector skills council responsible for the improvement of skills and training in the electricity, gas, waste management and water industries, said: “The way in which UK water companies have bought into the Competent Operator Framework is a credit to the industry and we congratulate Northumbrian Water on being the first company to get everyone through the training. The Framework means that the UK has a high standard of operator competence, which makes the UK’s water industry one of the most consistent and high performing in the world and provides reassurance to customers, regulators and wider stakeholders.“

Diane Morton, human resources director at Northumbrian Water, said: “To be the first water and sewerage company in the UK to have trained all operators to meet this standard is a real achievement and means we’re setting the standard for best practice in our field.

“It’s also a key milestone towards achieving our challenging Skills Pledge target of 90% of our workforce qualified to a minimum Level 2 in the National Qualifications Framework by December 2009."

For more information contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.

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