As a major regional employer with a 5,000 plus strong workforce, we spend a lot of time recruiting individuals with the talent and energy to keep our business moving forward.
We carry out regular reviews to identify where we may have future skills gaps, and develop plans to attract the right people.
Engineering and science related jobs remain the hardest to fill, due to historic skills shortages in these areas, but we are doing a lot with students and young job seekers to help address this – as detailed below.
A happy corollary of our constant need for new talent is that we create large numbers of jobs and training opportunities each year.
We try to run our recruitment programme in a way that supports the region’s wider jobs and training agenda.
For example, we have an active role in the Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership - a Government supported programme which sees employers work together to set the skills agenda and develop new approaches to training. As part of our involvement, we are piloting a programme to tackle youth unemployment in the North West.
As the lead partner along with EU skills we along with our Utility partners intent to offer training to 1,000 young people in our region over three years. Aimed at 16 to 24 years olds not in education, employment or training, the programme, backed by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, will see utility companies deliver 8-12 week programmes covering CV preparation, work placements and mentoring – culminating with a job interview and opportunity of a full-time role.
We were extremely proud that Mr Cameron visited our Warrington HQ recently to launch this programme.
Other key strands of our talent attraction and development programme include:
Apprentices: We currently support 118 apprentices – 31 of whom joined us in September 2014.
A combination of classroom based learning, work placements and mentoring provides apprentices with a fantastic launch pad for a career in our industry. We’re pleased that we now have an above average number of female apprentices – currently 9 per cent - thanks to a targeted programme to attract more women into these roles. There is still some way to go to establish an even more representative gender balance, but good progress is being made.
This year, we received accreditation to deliver our apprentice training programmes in house at our dedicated technical training centre – allowing us to take greater control of the apprentices’ journey.
Graduates: We have 67 Graduates - 22 of whom joined us in September 2014. Our graduate development programme includes a number of placements across the business, mentor support, a skills development programme and an annual, CEO business challenge. This year we have extended our graduate programme with a scheme to fast track graduates to future management roles and specialist finance roles.
STEM ambassadors: We have 30 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassadors who encourage students to consider careers in these under-represented areas. They attend education events throughout the year to promote careers in STEM subjects in many schools and colleges across our region.
Partly as a result of these efforts, we have seen a rise in the number of applicants to our apprenticeship programme who have studied STEM related subjects: 78 per cent in 2013, and 75 per cent in 2014. We ask for minimum of a C grade at GCSE, or equivalent.
Discovery scholarship: in support of Warrington Borough Council’s discovery scholarship, which nurtures an interest in STEM related subjects, we continue to offer work based activities at our head office to give students an insight into the many roles that rely on these subject areas.
Future tech school: we are supporting an innovative school that opened in September 2014 in Warrington, The school offers young people (year 10 onwards) the opportunity to study STEM related subjects coupled with work placements. We are one of several employers to be providing year long work placements for students at the new school, with the aim of provide a direct feed into our future apprenticeship and graduate programmes.
Work placements: every year, we host work experience placements for around 40 children, in school years 10 and 11. We continued to provide this opportunity in 2013/14, focusing on placements in business areas that relate to STEM subjects, such as IT, Labs and Engineering.
Staff development: As well as recruiting externally, we help existing colleagues reach their potential and meet the changing needs of our business, through a wide ranging development programme. Opportunities range from mentoring support to studying for an academic qualification. Last year, 88 per cent of colleagues who took part in a development programme were either promoted or took a larger role.
If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews