A day in the life of a jointer
I’ve been with SSEN for over 13 years, and the last four have seen me working as a jointer in the Highlands and Islands region. We're the team that connects customers onto the network, and I find it a realy satisfying way to spend your day, using your skills to make a difference.
Our main depot is in Inverness, but as our overall region covers the northernmost corners of the country, including the Western Isles, me and my work buddy can easily be covering hundreds of miles some weeks travelling to jobs.
Whether it’s new connections or repairing faults during a power cut, on any given day I could be working on Low Voltage, 11kV, 33kV cables, getting the lights on for a cottage in a Highland village, connecting new houses in Inverness or working on a windfarm in some of the most picturesque scenery around. While the meat and bones of the actual jointing tasks are the same wherever we go, it’s this variety of sites and the people I meet that makes it such an enjoyable job.
You need to like meeting people, as you’re very much the public face of SSEN. We’re often working close to houses, outside shops in a busy shopping precinct or having to work alongside other trades on a new development, and so it’s important that you’re able to get along with folk. Not everyone knows what goes on under the pavement, and there’s times when we get a few questions from members of the public about what we’re up to, especially if it’s in middle of a busy street. I’m happy to have a quick chat with them, tell them what we’re up to and why it’s needed.
There’s a great team spirit here, not just in our depot but right across the patch, and I think that’s largely down to the fact that a lot of us have all been involved on faults and working hard to get the power back on in some pretty challenging conditions. Working up here means we can be attempting to get through 10ft snow drifts or waiting for 80mph winds to die down which is half the battle.
I think another reason for this camaraderie is the fact that, when you look beyond the laughs and chat, we all really care about our job and looking after our customers, making sure they’ve got their connection on time, or we repair a fault that lets them heat their baby’s milk or powers their stairlift. When we’re working on a power cut, we keep our customers updated as to what we’re doing, especially the ones on our Priority Service Register, as they’re the ones who need that little bit of extra support when the power is off.
Covering the Highlands and Islands, one of the real plus points but also one of the big challenges, is the sheer scale of the patch we work in. The way I like to see it is ‘my office’ has one of the best views anywhere out there; people travel from all over the world to see our lochs and mountains and I’m out and about here every day as part of my work.
There’s a lot of travel to and from individual jobs, but our workplans are designed so that we get back to our own beds every night when possible. There are times when we need to do a couple of overnighters due to the location, for example if we need to be away on one of the islands and there’s limited ferries back and forward; it’s a 12-hour ferry trip to Shetland – and that’s just one way! The good thing is that there’s no pressure to stay away, if I’ve had a prior arrangement and need to be at home, one of the other team mates will do it, no questions asked.
I’ve been with SSEN for 13 years now, and one of things I really like is that we’re encouraged to always be thinking about developing ourselves, getting more skills, and progressing in the company. I'm really enjoying being a jointer, but it's reassuring to know that SSEN will support me if I want to get more training and move on to a different role.