Working with City & Guilds, GE Electric is helping its staff progress
12 July 2013
For City & Guilds, creating partnerships with businesses at the top of their sector comes naturally. As General Electric (GE) is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation technologies, it was a logical progression for its staff to undertake a City & Guilds qualification in Power Plant Operations.
Alan Mannion has been in training since he joined GE’s Tynagh power station in County Galway seven years ago. Shift Team Leader at Tynagh, he now has the chance to have his experience and training accredited with a qualification that certifies his skill level. ‘It validates what has been years of hard work and dedication to the job,’ says Alan, adding that he and his team will be officially enrolled on the City & Guilds qualification this summer.
Alan’s education prior to working at GE had been mostly academic: ‘I studied mechanical engineering at college, then did a one-year course in production engineering, and then went on to do a manufacturing technology Bachelors degree in Galway,’ he says.
After finding a job at the power plant, Alan quickly embraced the ethos of an on-the-job training system. ‘When I was studying at college it was all exams and theory,’ he says, ‘so when I left I wasn’t sure if I would be able to perform in a workplace environment. Learning at work means you go into your training with confidence in your abilities, which means you can progress faster, know what your goals are and how to achieve them. As soon as your training is complete, you’re already integrated into the workforce, so you have proved to yourself and your employers that you are able to do the job.’
GE became an operationally independent City & Guilds centre last year, allowing the company to train employees using industry standard competency-based qualifications. This ensures that the plant operates at full potential and that all levels of employees benefit from the partnership. The collaboration has enabled operations and maintenance team members, such as Alan, to gain a qualification in two state-of-the-art combined cycle power plant infrastructures, which are maintained by GE in Cork and Galway.
‘Having a job that requires constantly expanding your knowledge base and skill set is really important to me, so doing the City & Guilds qualification is an extension of that ongoing learning. It’s nice to be making progress and getting some personal advancement out of the work you do,’ says Alan.
The internationally and internally recognised qualification will allow GE staff to more easily move around and up within the organisation. ‘The City & Guilds programme has been well received by the team as it is seen as a recognised certification for a job they currently do,’ says Andrew Dowling, Operations Manager at Tynagh power station. ‘It has also encouraged the staff to revisit some of their past training sessions and it will be an important process in the continued development of the site team.’
Ronan Haughey, Development Manager for City & Guilds Europe, believes the partnership shows how City & Guilds’ global operations can create an effective working environment in the energy sector. ‘For us it’s all about the partnership and satisfaction of knowing that we can strategically support the energy agenda in Ireland and the client,’ he says. ‘These partnerships are scalable and as relevant in Ireland as they might be across the globe.’