Anita Martin, HR Manager of Well-Safe Solutions and Board Member of Developing the Young Workforce North East (DYWNE), shares her experience of the apprenticeship schemes giving young people the opportunity to start a career in decommissioning and the wider energy sector.
As a seasoned HR professional, I am embarrassed to say that throughout my career, making use of apprenticeship schemes has never featured high on my list of priorities.
While I have always been passionate about the link between schools and education - recognising that working together to close the gap between the two benefits all stakeholders - the reality of everyday operations has always meant there was a drive to recruit “experienced” individuals who could contribute immediately to the work environment.
Comments in the workplace such as “we don’t have time to train anyone”, “if you take on an apprentice and they’re no good, then you’re stuck with them” and “we need someone that can hit the ground running” were common responses to immediate vacancies.
I was also guilty of having looked at previous apprenticeship schemes in the past and feeling overwhelmed. Where to begin?
It felt like a lot of time and effort would be required to get a scheme established - time that I simply did not have.
How wrong I was!
Joining Well-Safe Solutions in the summer of 2018, I was recruited to set up the company’s HR function.
Our immediate focus was to recruit experienced individuals to provide the depth of knowledge, experience and credibility required to fuel the ambitious growth plans of our organisation.
A lot has changed since 2018 in the global energy sector, and we began to realise that in order to meet our ongoing growth targets, we would have to invest in the workforce of the future.
We made a strategic decision, as part of our diversity and inclusion deliverables, to increase the number of young people employed by Well-Safe Solutions.
There are a wealth of opportunities within both decommissioning and the wider energy sector, giving young people the chance to flourish and play a positive part in the energy transition.
We are now playing our part to ensure these opportunities are available to future generations.
In order to put our plan into action, we reached out to our local Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) team here in North-east Scotland, as well as Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
Both organisations explained the differences between the apprenticeship programmes, and gave us practical support in setting these up correctly.
At Modern and Graduate level apprenticeships, there are literally hundreds of providers that can support the required training, but we decided to keep it simple and work in the first instance with a college and university local to Aberdeen.
The support from both establishments has been fantastic and has made the whole process very streamlined and much less daunting than I expected it to be.
Since April 2021, Well-Safe Solutions has recruited one Modern Apprentice and two Graduate Apprentices, with plans in place to recruit more over the next 17 months.
The business will also support two Foundation Apprentices from the start of the 2022 academic year.
Recruiting our apprentices has been an absolute joy. The quality of preparation and ability to perform during interview conditions demonstrated by these young people has outshone even some of the most seasoned professionals.
We are delighted with our young team; they bring an energy and enthusiasm to the company which is well worth the effort to support them through their apprenticeship.
It’s heartening to know that we are proactively creating our workforce for the future that will enable Well-Safe Solutions to continue to thrive.
My advice for anyone considering getting involved in apprenticeship schemes is not to put it off.
Contact your local DYW team as a first step, and you’ll be surprised at just how straightforward it is to get an apprenticeship set up within your organisation – regardless of the size of your business, or the sector within which you operate.
DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) works to connect employers with education. It bridges the gap to provide young people with more opportunities to develop their employability skills and help them find fulfilling careers.
To find out more, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful DYW North East Foundation Apprenticeships links: