DYW and SPEN – Making Sparks Fly
By early 2017, management at the Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) office in Dumfries had identified a persistent shortage in the D&G region of suitable candidates for employment. DYW DG met with SPEN to discuss how to reach and approach these individuals. DYW then set up workshops in host schools to showcase SPEN and its career opportunities. SPEN has since seen increased engagement with schools and the wider community, and an increase in successful applicants for its training programmes.
SPEN is part of the Scottish Power Group of companies. It provides power on behalf of supply companies through a network of cables and power lines that SPEN owns and maintains. Through its transmission and distribution network it provides power to 2 million customers in Central and Southern Scotland.
In the face of a workforce shortage, SPEN identified a need to motivate and attract young people to work in their sector, to be able to access and attract the right candidate, and also the need to start recruiting the next generation in the face of a current ageing workforce. With a large part of its local workforce due to retire in the next 10 years, succession planning was required to prevent a crisis in recruitment.
Before partnering with DYW DG, SPEN’s experience of the recruitment of young people had not been an entirely positive one. Young people had poor interviewing skills, very little brand recognition or obvious commitment to the industry, and SPEN had very few opportunities to liaise with schools directly to address these concerns.
SPEN also identified that their recruitment issues were due to internal factors as well as external. The company itself had kept a low profile in recruitment terms, and was not well known in Dumfries and Galloway as an employer. Indeed, as it had only employed one new apprentice in each of the past few years, it had very little brand recognition in the wider workplace and community.
Having recognised these challenges, SPEN’s goal was to overcome them and recruit more young people. It also wanted to generally engage with and encourage young people to consider a carer in this type of industry, and in particular, to attract more women to such careers. Finally, it hoped to improve direct communication with schools and colleges, to be able to reach young people before they left higher education.
DYW DG discussed with SPEN what they needed, and what the possible solutions were to their problems. DYW helped broker a relationship between SPEN and local high schools. More importantly, DYW helped SPEN improve their own presentation, to make their offering more interesting to schools and students, for example by bringing apprentices to workshops in schools to talk first hand about careers in the industry.
DYW’s involvement with SPEN helped not only address short-term employment goals and challenges in succession planning, but also helped it develop its strategy around corporate social responsibility. Its interactions with young people became broader than just employer/potential employees. As a result of DYW and SPEN’s partnership, SPEN has been able to promote STEM careers in general, especially to girls, and to give back to young people in its community by participating in and encouraging good interviewing skills.
Kenny Bowie, Head of Planning and Design at SPEN in Dumfries, said, “DYW holds the key to businesses getting involved with schools, to having access to future school leavers for future employment needs. We especially liked DYW DG's holistic approach – they look at the whole problem, from our point of view and from young people’s and try to help both sides be ready to work with each other.”
Since partnering with DYW DG, SPEN has seen an increase in applicants and has had an exceptional response to its last two recruitment campaigns. By March 2018, 7 new apprentices had started with SPEN in Dumfries and Galloway.
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