New overhead lines training initiative launched with Forth Valley College


Retraining local unemployed people for jobs as overhead electrical lines technicians is the focus of a new partnership programme at Forth Valley College.

The College has teamed up with SP Energy Networks, Falkirk Council and Job Centre Plus to deliver the training course which will address a real skills gap in the overhead electrical lines sector.

Scottish Power, SP Energy Network’s parent company, has a longstanding link up with the College who currently train around 50 Modern Apprentices for the company every year.

“I’m delighted to be building on the close working relationship we have with Scottish Power by getting involved in this training programme. We are here to teach courses that give the workforce the skills to do the jobs that are in demand, through working closely with the energy sector we have developed this course specifically to achieve this,” said College Principal, Dr Ken Thomson.

“It is great example of our commitment to investing in up-skilling and transition training for local people to create sustainable local employment.”

Six local unemployed candidates started the course in September and have successfully completed. They are now employed as trainees with SP Energy Network’s contractor SPIE ENS and are continuing to study for nationally recognised qualifications.

Guy Jefferson, Network Operations Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “As many as four out five workers in the energy sector are set to retire over the next fifteen years, which comes at the same time as we are looking to deliver the most important upgrades to the electricity network in over half a century. To deliver this major investment programme we need to see new recruits across the board, from apprentices to tradesmen to engineers and graduates. Our business will support more than 4,000 job opportunities over the next decade.

“Partnerships like the ones we have developed with Forth Valley College will be essential to encourage new blood in to the industry. After only 12 weeks the students on this course will have the opportunity to establish long-term careers in the energy industry, in highly-skilled roles, and help to deliver some of the biggest investments ever carried out in Scotland’s electricity networks.”

All the candidates for the course were sourced by Falkirk Council and Job Centre Plus from the pool of unemployed people in the local area.

Council Leader Craig Martin said: “We are committed to providing training opportunities for local people where they get a chance to learn new, valuable skills needed for future employment. With all six trainees now employed, the programme shows it has provided them with an excellent base on which to build their careers within the industry.”

The courses are taught on specially constructed rigs supplied by the energy company and delivered by industry trained tutors at the College. The next course will focus on HNC and HND qualified engineers who are currently not fully using their qualifications to train as senior line maintenance engineers.

“I am delighted to open this new facility, which will help to train local people in an area where the industry has a skills gap. The partnership between the college, local partners and SP Energy is an excellent example of the college responding to the skills demand within the energy sector, supporting individuals to get the training that will assist them into employment in to what is a growing energy sector in Scotland,” said Michael Mathieson MSP.

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