With Scottish Apprenticeship Week (SAW) in full swing, union leaders and training providers have praised employers for ‘nurturing and encouraging’ young electrical talent in a year that saw record numbers return to the classroom.
Unite the Union, the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) and Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) have all saluted businesses for ‘supporting people, employers and the economy’ – the theme of this year’s SAW, which runs until 11 March.
Apprentices and adult trainee numbers in Scotland’s electrotechnical sector are at their highest level for 12 years, with nearly 800 new learners enrolling on the Electrical Apprenticeship and Adult Trainee Programmes in 2021.
And Scott Foley, Chair of SECTT and Regional Officer at Unite the Union, praised employers for their commitment to building up a highly-skilled talent pool for the future of the industry.
He says: “After all the industry has been through in the past two years, it is excellent to see employers taking a long-term view and putting their resources into nurturing and encouraging a new cohort of qualified electricians to take the sector forward.
“I’m always greatly impressed when I get to meet electrical apprentices and hear their stories about how working, learning and earning is having a positive impact on their lives.”
Tam Kirby, Fair Work Apprenticeship Coordinator at Unite the Union, adds: “Apprenticeships support people, employers and the economy and provide the best way to upskill the next generation and secure the future of our industry.
“Unite the Union, SECTT and the SJIB are committed to the ongoing success of apprenticeships and we will continue to do everything we can to give our talented trainees the opportunities they need to succeed.”
Last year’s intake of apprentices and adult trainees in Scotland was the highest in Scotland since 2009 – and SECTT and the SJIB say it’s an encouraging sign of the determination to tackle the UK-wide skills shortage .
Fiona Harper, Secretary of the SJIB, says: “More and more, the message is clear that the future is electric and young people want to play their part in the transition to net zero.
“An apprenticeship in the electrical industry in Scotland is seen not just as a path to a professional and highly-rewarding career, but as a means of making a contribution to a greener and more sustainable society.”
Ms Harper, who is also Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction trade association, adds: “Diversity is also a key dynamic in powering the future and, for the increasing numbers of young women who are signing up to the profession, comprehensive and tailored training can open many doors and create a rewarding career.”
Anne Galbraith, chief executive of SECTT, which manages high-quality training on behalf of the SJIB, says: “The sustained support for training demonstrated by employers of all sizes across Scotland has been extremely encouraging, especially in this crucial recovery period.
“There are now a total of 2,669 electrical apprentices and adult trainees training in Scotland, including the 660 apprentices and 110 adult trainees recruited for the 2021 intake, and the outlook for 2022-23 is more positive than it has been for many years.”