What do you think of when you imagine working in the drainage industry?
If you haven’t experienced it before, we can imagine that you’re perhaps not picturing the most glamorous scene. However, there is much more to a career in the drainage industry than meets the eye.
In this article, we’ll look at the many great things about working in the sector and hopefully change your perception about what it’s like to have a career in this growing sector, while busting a fair few myths in the process.
We’d be lying if we said there was no dirt or nasty smells involved in this job - after all, we are here to make sure Britain’s drains and sewers run smoothly, so a certain amount of both comes with the territory.
However, the reality is that our workers’ interaction with sewage is much less frequent than you might expect. After all, we employ state-of-the-art technology, such as CCTV survey equipment, to identify and diagnose the causes of pipe, drain and sewer-related issues. We are then often able to fix the problems using no-dig technology such as cured in place pipe (CIPP) relining that doesn’t require excavation work, or specialist high-pressure jet vacuumation units that clean and clear blockages.
When there is contact with sewage and fats, oils and grease (FOG), such as when blockages need to be cleared, state-of-the-art personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided.
Shaun Ciccone, wastewater engineer for Lanes, says: “When I ran pubs, we would have to clean up very dirty toilets, or clear up after someone had been sick. Most people have experienced a certain amount of bad smells and sights. Anyone who has looked after a baby knows that!
“There are moments when you are faced with some challenging jobs, but they’re not as frequent as people think, and we’re given all the equipment, clothing and training - including safety procedures - to manage them properly.
“It’s not something I am concerned about now, and I would advise others not to let that side of things stop them thinking about a career with Lanes.”
Furthermore, when our engineers have had a dirtier-than-usual job, they don’t have to take their uniforms home to clean themselves, because we have comprehensive washing facilities at all our depots nationwide.
In addition, our engineers - those who get their hands dirtier than most - aren’t the only people who work here at Lanes Group, the UK’s largest privately owned drainage contractor. We also have a huge range of other functions within the business, such as:
It’s clear that there is much more going on behind the scenes than a lot of people realise, which means working in the industry isn’t just about the gunge and the gunk.
Many often think that working in the drainage industry means working in the dark, and in isolation.
However, our days are actually filled with interaction with people - from customers that we deal with when we turn up to a job, to the teams that our engineers and other professionals work closely with on a daily basis.
Chris Huston, drainage engineer, says: “What’s most important is the people skills - wanting to help customers who are having problems with drains and sewers.
“That’s what gives me a big buzz. Helping someone - it could be a pensioner or a young mum looking after kids - and making their lives better by sorting a drain blockage or flooding incident.”
Those affected by situations like this are often very distressed, as you can imagine, and it’s extremely important that the teams that visit them to assess and fix the problem are empathetic and compassionate. And when you show empathy and compassion on a daily basis, it all adds up to great job satisfaction.
The drainage industry is rapidly growing, so that means sector professionals are able to take advantage of numerous benefits - especially at the largest drainage and wastewater contractor in the UK.
At Lanes, we offer better starting salaries than a lot of graduate roles in many other industries, meaning those who want to begin a rewarding career can do so without being out of pocket.
We also offer a range of other industry-leading rewards and benefits, such as:
We are serious about helping our employees have a rewarding career within the drainage industry - and to us, that means investing in significant amounts of training and development. In the first six months, our new starters get access to considerably more training than other companies in the industry provide, because we are dedicated to helping employees hit the ground running.
We also offer a more innovative training environment than you might expect, highlighted by our unique 360-degree projection theatre called the Igloo.
The £60,000 training centre delivers wraparound sound and vision, which allows teams to instantly see and hear what it is like to be inside a sewer - even in hazardous situations - without having to leave the training room. This means the trainee is able to gain a totally different perspective on the industry than they would get elsewhere.
Working in the drainage industry is certainly a challenge - we’d never suggest otherwise. However, our workers enjoy the challenge and the fact that they never know what problems they’re going to need to solve when they wake up each day.
James Lewis, a blockage engineer, had previously worked as a car salesman, but finds the dynamism and unpredictability of his new career extremely refreshing and rewarding.
“I love working at Lanes and being a drainage engineer. It was a bit of a change from selling cars, but I’ve never regretted the move. Every day is different and brings new and interesting challenges,” he says.
These challenges are often physical as well as mental, which offers a whole host of other benefits. Since joining Lanes, James has lost nearly four stones in weight because he has replaced sitting at a desk with being out and about all day.
Another important point you may not realise about working in this sector is that it’s one that attracts talented professionals from a whole host of different career backgrounds - as you can see from our diverse staff stories.
Just some of the skills and qualities we’re looking for include:
Whether you have experience in the industry or not, there is likely to be a place for you if you have some of these skills - it’s never too late to change the lanes of your career.
These are just some of the interesting - and often surprising - facts about life at work in one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors that we discuss with those who are keen to become drainage professionals, but don’t know what to expect.
Do you have any questions about what it’s like to work in the drainage industry that we haven’t answered in this piece? If so, get in touch by using our online contact form.
Lanes Group plc,
17 Parkside Lane, Parkside Industrial Estate, Leeds, LS11 5TD
Lanes Group plc
Customer Solutions Centre
9 Cambridge Avenue
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What it’s actually like to work in the drainage industry
In this article, we look at the many great things about working in the sector and show you what it’s really like to have a career in this growing sector, while busting a fair few myths in the process.