Employers from UK water, power, gas and waste management companies can look back on a series of landmark achievements that have been initiated by the Energy and Utilities Workforce Renewal & Skills Strategy during its inaugural year. The Skills Strategy has stimulated increased investment in skills, taken targeted action to address skills shortages* and driven collaboration on a digital platform to appeal to new demographics.
Published on 9 February 2017, the Skills Strategy documents how the energy and utilities sector will support UK infrastructure by developing a resilient and sustainable workforce. The sector combined accounts for the greatest share of the Government’s National Infrastructure Pipeline.
The Skills Strategy was developed by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a collaboration of 29 leading sector employers which formed in summer 2016. This predated the Government’s plans to drive skills reform through pan-sector employer groups.
Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, was a driving force behind the formation of the Skills Partnership. He said: “The importance of the infrastructure sector generally, the skilled people needed to deliver it, the ageing workforce and need for greater inclusivity are all important themes in our Skills Strategy.* The developments we have seen, with Ofwat and the Industrial Strategy White Paper, have followed on from recommendations in the Skills Strategy that prioritise growth and productivity . The Skills Strategy has stimulated initiatives that are building sustainability and workforce resilience.”
Over 2,000 apprentices are currently undertaking an apprenticeship within energy and utilities organisations. A further 220 have already passed through the EUIAS end-point assessment service and taken up employment in the sector with leading companies such as E.ON, Electricity North West, Morrison Utility Services, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, Severn Trent Water and UK Power Networks.
It has been rolled out after a successful year-long pilot, during which lead partners – Skills Partnership members Amey, National Grid, SSE, Thames Water and UK Power Networks – cascaded the Skills Accord’s aims through their delivery partners and supply chain. The 26 companies that originally pledged to its commitments in the pilot year has now grown to 40 in its first year.
The Skills Strategy’s calls to build sustainability and workforce resilience in the sector have since been recognised in policy:
Many leading organisations have supported the Skills Strategy, including:
CBI Scotland referenced The Skills Partnership’s positive action to address the skills challenge in its Pursuing Prosperity report. The Skills Partnership was invited by the Scottish government to offer external support and challenge to its STEM Strategy for Education and Training.
Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive, UK Power Networks and Chair of the Skills Partnership, said: “It is vitally important to develop a sustainable workforce in an industry that is essential to meet people’s everyday needs … Every company is only as good as its employees.
“We are delighted to be part of the Energy and Utility Skills Partnership to encourage collaborative work, and address the findings of the Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy which aims to raise the profile of exciting job opportunities.”
Nick Ellins concluded: “We are proud of the progress that the Skills Partnership has made within the first year, but we are not content to rest on our laurels. More political and policy focus should be given to sectors like ours that contribute most to the UK’s productivity and economy.
“We are continuing to work with regulators, government ministers and other key stakeholders: the sector needs their support to ensure we grow the sector talent pool, enable the transfer-ability of skills and reduce individual employer costs by working collaboratively.
“It is vital that this sector, which is of strategic importance to national productivity, receives the investment it needs to address the challenges it faces. This will stimulate good outcomes for our customers, colleagues, companies and communities, so it can only be good for the UK economy.”
For more information on this news story, contact: Veron Graham, PR Manager – Energy and Utility Skills
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