Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP has marked the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week (May 18-22) with a visit to SSE’s training centre in Perth today [Monday 18 May].
This year SSE will welcome an intake of 146 apprentices – 21 more than 2014. It’s backing the talent of tomorrow to the tune of £11.68m this year, investing an average of £80,000 per apprentice.
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth met with John Stewart, SSE’s Director of Human Resources, and technical skills trainees and apprentices, who were holding workshops with second and third year pupils from The Community School of Auchterarder.
Mr Swinney said: “Scottish Apprenticeship Week highlights the value that Modern Apprentices are bringing to companies the length and breadth of Scotland.
“Here at SSE, that value is clearly well-recognised and appreciated. Modern Apprentices bring a positive impact to business and industry and SSE’s own figures show that they are also bringing a tangible economic return here – as well as the very real investment in young people’s futures.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting young people towards jobs and apprenticeships and latest figures show we are on course to have created over 100,000 new opportunities over the last four years. The ‘human capital’ report published by SSE shows that this is not only good news for apprentices, but good news for Scottish business.”
John Stewart said: “Apprenticeships put young people on track for a first rate career and give people all over the country that all-important first chance.
“Every year since 2007 over 100 new apprentices have joined our apprenticeship programme, which offers sustainable long term jobs. And by long-term I mean long-term, we have a retention rate of over 90 per cent and some of our senior executives joined SSE themselves as trainees or apprentices, and have never looked back since.”
In a first for a UK company, SSE recently produced a ‘human capital’ report which measures the economic value of the skills and capabilities of the people it employs.
SSE commissioned professional services firm PwC to estimate the economic value of the energy company’s human capital.
As of April 2014, the human capital of SSE’s 6,241 employees based in Scotland was valued at £1.12 billion.
The report also found that for every £1 SSE invests in apprentices there is an economic return on that investment of £4.29 and for technical trainees it is £7.65.
Mr Stewart added: “SSE is breaking new ground with this report which helps us properly understand the economic return on investment and shape our future HR plans and our investment in training.”
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, construction and installation) 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.