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On the job . . . Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch at the company's premises in Chelmer St. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch believes the energy sector has the potential to change faster in the next decade than it has in the past 50 years.

And he says it is important New Zealand’s energy sector does more to generate “excitement” in engineering and technology as careers for young people.

“The types of skills we will need in the future are different to the skills we needed in the past,” Mr Douch said.

“We need to focus not just on year 13s, considering their future options, but young people earlier in their schooling, to start telling the story of energy and technology and how fast things are evolving.

“It is, after all, a pretty cool area to be in and will be even more so in a decade.”

Every year, Network Waitaki offers scholarships for young people interested in studying electrical engineering or technology.

This year, the consumer trust-owned electricity company is offering a more flexible approach to appeal to young people who want either a degree or diploma in electrical engineering or a related technology field such as information technology, data science or geospatial information.

“It’s always been a broad scholarship, but it typically went to people studying electric power engineering,” he said.

“What we’re now saying is, the range of skills we need in our industry are changing.”

As well as a financial contribution towards study, the scholarships include regular, paid “on the job” training.

The scholarship was an investment in the future of the business and the community, Mr Douch said.

“A career in our industry will give graduates the opportunity to help the community improve energy efficiency, contribute to decarbonisation of the economy and help with the uptake of new technologies such as electric vehicles, in-home generation and domestic energy storage,” he said.

“The majority of graduates go on to a diverse career in the engineering and power sector and that’s the really rewarding part of it.

“While we expect the scholarship recipients to work for us for a few years, we understand they will be in high demand around New Zealand and across the globe.”

Former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil Duncan McLeod (22) was awarded a full Network Waitaki scholarship in 2015 as a pathway to his chosen engineering degree.

He is in his final year of study towards a bachelor of engineering in electrical engineering at Canterbury University and will take up a full-time role at the company when he graduates.

“It’s been a great learning curve and I am really keen to turn the theory into practice,” Mr McLeod said.

To apply for a Network Waitaki scholarship, visit: networkwaitaki.co.nz/company/scholarships.