Electrical apprentice and adult trainee intake in Scotland reaches 12-year high

Barrie McKay

THE number of new apprentices and adult trainees in Scotland’s electrical sector has reached its highest figure for 12 years.

More than 800 people have enrolled on the Electrical Apprenticeship and Adult Trainee Programmes for 2021. This is the largest intake in Scotland since 2009 – and the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) said it’s an encouraging sign in the quest to tackle skills shortages.

Barrie McKay, training and development manager at SECTT, which manages training on behalf of the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), said, “I’ve been at SECTT for more than 20 years and it’s really encouraging to see a return to such high numbers. The figures are particularly satisfying  given the position the industry was in this time last year, when only 500 people began training due to the impact of Covid-19.

“This improved intake illustrates that people recognise that the future is electric and also understand that their personal prospects will be brighter if they’re part of a sector that is going to play a key part in all our lives.”

A total of 2,158 electrical apprentices and adult trainees are currently training in Scotland, including the 715 apprentices and 126 adult trainees recruited this year.

Barrie added, “Not only are the numbers looking good, but the quality of the young people being taken on – both male and female – is really impressive. The industry has been concerned for some time about skills shortages as the demand for qualified electricians accelerates, and the enthusiasm and dedication of these new recruits goes a long way to easing these fears and suggesting that there is an appetite to learn among the electrical talent of tomorrow.

“As colleges continue to recover from the challenges of Covid-19, they will now help their students embrace all the modern technologies which will play such a huge part in a greener and more sustainable future.”

SECTT and the SJIB praised employers earlier this year for the number of apprentices being taken on.

Both bodies have highlighted the ‘altered perception’ of employment in the sector, thanks to the campaign for regulation of the electrical industry led by SELECT.

Fiona Harper, director of employment & skills at SELECT and the secretary of the SJIB, commented, “The industry as a whole is committed to the next generation of talent coming through, and employers are clearly supportive of creating a pool of highly-trained, highly-qualified personnel to take their business and the sector forward.”