Youth and Women’s Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing praises SSE’s investment in young people

Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, has today [Wednesday 11 March] praised SSE’s commitment to supporting young people during a visit to its headquarters in Perth.

Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, has today [Wednesday 11 March] praised SSE’s commitment to supporting young people during a visit to its headquarters in Perth.

The energy firm is helping some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people turn their lives around, thanks to the legacy of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

SSE was one of the proud sponsors of the Games and has worked with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Barnardo’s to train and develop young talent, offering young people six month paid work placements.

The Scotland’s Best programme, delivered by SDS, has given more than 1,000 young people the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience through volunteering opportunities to help them get, stay and progress in education, further training or employment.

As part of the Scottish Government’s Legacy Week, the Minister met 22-year-old Lewis Hepburn, from Perth, who secured a full time customer service role with SSE through the programme.

Ms Ewing said: “Young people have been at the heart of legacy and I am delighted that Scotland’s Best was able to support over a thousand young women and men ensuring that they and the organisations they have been involved with are key to sustaining legacy beyond the Games. The example of Lewis Hepburn is one of many genuine success stories from around the country and I am very pleased to see him bringing his experience and enthusiasm to one of Scotland’s key businesses.”

SSE was determined to play its part in delivering a lasting legacy for Scotland and sport across the UK.

In support of the Scotland’s Best programme, SSE extended its successful partnership with Barnardo’s to give young people who have been unemployed for six months or longer  a six-month paid  placement while working towards an SQF Level 4 qualification. Often they are the first generation in the family for some time to be employed on a permanent basis.

Gary Hamilton, SSE’s Technical Training Manager, said: “Since we started our successful partnership with Barnardo’s in 2008 we have helped nearly 200 young people develop their skills and increase their chances of full time employment.  The Scotland’s Best programme enabled us to continue this work and I’m delighted that more than half of the young people we’ve supported have secured permanent jobs with us – a true testament to the success of the scheme.”

Catherine Thomas, SDS Relationship Development Executive, who led the programme, said: “Lewis is a great example of a young person who has used the valuable training and skills he gained while volunteering through the Scotland’s Best programme to move on to a job.

“He is one of many young people who have completed the Scotland’s Best programme, received a qualification and gone on to employment, further training or education. It is also good to recognise the commitment of employers like SSE who are supporting young people from the programme into employment.”

Tommy McDade, Assistant Director for Employment, Training and Skill Scotland and Northern Ireland for Barnardo’s, said  the charity welcomed  the support shown by SSE.

He added: “This programme provides a great platform for local young people to gain valuable work experience and improve their skills for the world of work.

“This partnership between SSE and Barnardo’s Works has helped transform the lives of many young people who have been only too willing to make the most of the opportunity provided.”

Ms Ewing’s visit  also coincided with National Apprentice Week (9 to 13 March 2015), SSE offers apprenticeship programmes lasting three to four years in nine different areas ranging from contracting (electrical, mechanical and heating and vent) Power Distribution (overhead lines, fitting and jointing), Generation (electrical, Mechanical and C and I) and home services (gas engineers).

It puts trainees through foundation degrees as well as giving them work experience across the business.  Graduates then join a two year rotational programme to develop their skills and experience and become professional engineers.

SSE is also taking steps to support potential transmission engineers who want to live and work in the Highlands. In partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands SSE has helped develop and will sponsor six places on a new BEng Power Engineering degree.

Since 2007, more than 800 apprentices have been hired by SSE, which represents an overall investment of £64m.

Lewis Hepburn, from Perth, is a 22-year-old Customer Service Advisor who secured a full time job with SSE through the Barnardo’s Works Tayside programme.

He said: “When I first arrived on the work programme I was in SSE’s validation team for around four months before I was offered an interview for a job in the sales department. I was successful and I am now about to go into my sales training. What I love about working at SSE is that you are a valued member of a team and everyone has great confidence in you to do well.

“Months and months of not working can be disheartening for a young person, Barnardo’s Works  basically put an arm round my shoulder by giving me the opportunity of getting the job at SSE. I firmly believe every young person should get involved in the programme as it is a fantastic opportunity for getting people back into work.”

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