Warmworks and our supply chain have been providing opportunities for young people for over five years while delivering Warmer Homes Scotland, the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty scheme. Ensuring wider communities benefit from the scheme’s delivery is paramount and Warmworks works closely with our supply chain of 22 local SMEs to make this a reality.
As Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2021 approaches (1st-5th March), it’s a good moment to take pride in the fact that around one fifth of our workforce is made up of young people and apprentices.
While most of those jobs have been created in our sub-contracted installation companies so far, in March last year, Warmworks recruited our first directly employed Electrical Apprentice under the Skills Development Scotland ‘Adopt an Apprentice’ scheme. George Smith, now 21, says: “I didn’t know anything about renewable technologies before I started at Warmworks. It’s so different to the job I was made redundant from.” Now in his final year, George should complete his Modern Apprenticeship (SVQ) in Electrical Installation at Perth College very soon. George has also been supported by the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust, who referred George to us. George continues: “I now understand how heat pumps, Solar PV and storage batteries can work together. Every job is different and I’m learning all the time.”
There are also new schemes that have been launched to support people to find work; the UK Government has commenced its Kickstart UK scheme for unemployed 16-24 year olds to gain from funded, six-month work placements and the Scottish Government has also announced the Scottish Young Person’s Guarantee. We are working with our supply chain to discuss how to build on these schemes to create a sustainable pipeline of young talent as we move towards a net-zero emissions society.
Elaine Ellis, Skills Planning Manager at one of our key partner organisations, Skills Development Scotland, says: “Employers throughout the construction sector continually demonstrate their commitment to apprenticeship training… As we move towards Net Zero by 2045, there will be an increasing demand for new talent in a range of roles to undertake the practical work needed to upgrade our buildings, and apprentices will be central to meeting that demand.”
Elaine makes a good point and it’s worth repeating; if Scotland is to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2045 and eradicate fuel poverty by 2040 (as far as practicably possible), then far more young people, more skills and more training opportunities will be needed to support our industry as it works towards these transformational goals.
With the myriad of support schemes and initiatives in place, we have the framework for success, but the proof will be in the pudding. Imagine thousands of new jobs and more being created each year for a new cohort of green workers across Scotland. Young people at the heart of delivering a clean, green, zero carbon economy and affordable energy for all. Now who wouldn’t be in favour of that?
I’m looking forward to the road ahead; to continuing to build on our efforts so far and to working alongside our supply chain and the Scottish Government to ensure that a green jobs revolution for young people – which has for so long only been a slogan and an ambition – can become an increasingly tangible reality.