People power: Eirgrid kicks off its 2021 graduate programme
Graduates will play role in company’s renewable energy strategy for 2020-25
The five-week programme will be held off-site in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions
Eirgrid, the company responsible for managing and operating the national grid, kicks off its 2021 graduate development programme on September 30th. This will see up to 15 graduates from a variety of backgrounds take part in a unique five-week induction programme, during which they will learn about different aspects of the business.
“As we lead the way in the transition to managing renewable energy on the grid, the graduates will have an exciting role to play in driving and supporting our new strategy for 2020-25,” says talent acquisition lead Paul Kiernan. “Eirgrid is committed to making the grid ready to carry 70 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This new strategy will provide future graduates with a unique opportunity to help guide and support our purpose to transform the power grid for future generations.”
A lot of the work we do is externally facing so they also need strong people skills
The company’s graduate programme has been running for a number of years and is aimed at new and recently qualified graduates in engineering, business, IT, finance and economics. The two-year programme offers graduates a permanent position, with three structured eight-month rotations in different areas of the business.
“We look for people with strong problem-solving, communications, organisational and teamworking skills,” says senior talent acquisition specialist John O’Rourke. “The ability to interpret and analyse data is also important. A lot of the work we do is externally facing so they also need strong people skills.”
During the programme, graduates become involved in all aspects of the transmission system operation, and gain an understanding how the integrated electricity market operates across the island of Ireland and in Europe.
“They also learn what we need to do to continue to develop the necessary infrastructure through planning, consent, design and build stages,” says Kiernan.
Like many other organisations, the impact of Covid-19 has disrupted the company’s plans for graduate programmes this year.
“To avoid the disappointment of delaying this year’s programme, we have changed how we introduce our graduates to our business and will do so in a phased and safe way,” says O’Rourke. “We have also developed a new and enhanced five-week induction programme.”
The five-week programme will be held off-site in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions.
“During the first week they will meet with our chief executive, Mark Foley, and Siobhán Toale, our chief people and information officer, to learn about our overall business strategy and our people strategy,” says O’Rourke. “Over the following four weeks they will meet with executives from different parts of the business to learn about different aspects of the organisation. They will work through development modules focusing on building key competencies which will position them for success in their career. They will also meet with current graduates and their mentors.”
The structured programme will also lead to a formal qualification.
“The graduates will work on a project and present it at the end of the programme,” he explains. “They will receive a QQI-awarded certificate in professional effectiveness on successful completion of the programme. It’s the first time we’ve tried this. We’ve turned the crisis into a positive in some ways.”
On completion of the programme, graduates take up roles in different areas of the business.
“Business need is key when it comes to deciding where the graduates start their careers,” Kiernan points out. “We take into account their particular skillsets and the areas of the business where they have already worked. We have a good track record with graduate recruitment and career development. We have recently increased graduate numbers to 12 to 15 a year from around four or five up to three years ago.”
EirGrid has been fortunate enough to be able to continue to recruit during the pandemic
The application process for next year will see Eirgrid introduce video interviews for the first time.
“This will provide students with more flexibility and will allow us to meet them in a safe way,” says Kiernan. “The programme will be open to recent and newly qualified graduates who have a minimum 2.1 degree. The process will include an online application, psychometric assessment, video interview and assessment centre, with positions starting in September 2021.”
Recruitment also continues in different areas of the business.
“EirGrid has been fortunate enough to be able to continue to recruit during the pandemic as we strive to meet the objectives of our ambitious 2020-25 strategy,” he adds. “One of the skillsets that will be important for us over the coming years will be project management as we look to develop and enhance our grid infrastructure to ensure we have the capacity to meet the future electricity needs of the island. Our future has never looked more exciting. And this is an incredible opportunity to be part of it.”