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As part of the EU’s commitment to reduce the impacts of climate change, the UK government introduced a rollout that requires energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020. However, the shortage of smart meter engineers in the UK has presented a challenge to suppliers who aim to meet the target. We sit down with Brian Jobe – Head of Supply Chain at Siemens Metering Services to find out more about how they, in partnership with Search Consultancy’s Gas & Electric Recruitment Division are blazing a trail in narrowing the skill shortage gap!
The UK Government’s energy policy requires suppliers to install smart meters in the homes of all domestic customers and small businesses by the end of 2020. However, recent figures show that with just under four years left to go, more than 48 million meters have yet to be installed. To achieve the target, installation rates must increase fivefold from the current 200,000 a month to more than one million a month, but the drastic shortage of skilled installers threatens the industry’s ability to reach the target laid out by the government. For this reason, we have had to re-evaluate our recruitment criteria, and shift our talent focus. Historically, we have only hired qualified engineers, but with not enough experienced candidates in that field to meet the demand, we now have to take a more proactive approach in fostering training and development.
Siemens in partnership with Search has embraced the Trailblazers Apprenticeship scheme in a push to grow our workforce to meet the demand. Historically, we would only hire individuals with the relevant experience and qualifications for the role, but this has since changed to hiring non qualified individuals and providing adequate training for them throughout the year, after which they will not only obtain a recognised qualification, but also have the experience and skills required for the role.
In October 2016, we had our first batch of 24 trainees join the program, and since then we have witnessed substantial growth in our business. Approximately 75 percent of that growth can be attributed to our implementation of the Trailblazers Apprenticeship scheme. From January to November this year, we grew our workforce from 140 to 470 smart meter engineers. By changing our focus to trainees, we are endeavouring to train them to capacity over the course of this year, after which they will be fully qualified members of the workforce.
Retention is a primary focus for us! As such we continuously endeavour to invest in the training and development of our employees whilst demonstrating how much we value them. Many of the trainees we have taken on as part of the Trailblazers program possessed zero qualifications or prior experience in this field, and were struggling to find work. By giving them the chance to receive practical training, achieve a recognised qualification and ultimately secure a job for the next five to ten years, we have ultimately been successful in attracting more numbers into our workforce. Going forward, we will aim to retain our numbers through various incentives including avenues for promotion and salary increases.
The Siemens Trailblazers Apprenticeship Program aims to turn today's jobseekers into the experts of tomorrow! As an apprentice, you will not only receive the practical training you need to kick-start and further your career as an Engineer, but you will also have the opportunity to secure a permanent role at Siemens upon successful completion of the program. For more information, please call 0161 835 8698, or drop us a line on [email protected]!
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