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Appetite for an electrical career soars as number of new apprentices and adult trainees in Scotland reaches highest figure for 12 years

Scotland’s electrical training body has saluted an “excellent” start to the academic year after the number of electrical apprentices and adult trainees beginning their studies reached a 12-year high.

More than 800 new learners have enrolled on the Electrical Apprenticeship and Adult Trainee Programmes for 2021, with colleges and training centres reporting full classrooms as future professionals take their first steps on the electrical ladder.

The intake is the highest in Scotland since 2009 – and the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) says it’s another encouraging sign of the determination to tackle the UK-wide skills shortage .

Barrie McKay, Training and Development Manager at SECTT, which manages high-quality 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 for the 2021 intake.

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 for taking on apprentices in numbers earlier this year, confounding fears that recruitment could be a casualty of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both bodies also pointed towards the altered perception of employment in the sector, thanks to the long-running campaign for regulation of the electrical industry spearheaded by SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction trade association.

Fiona Harper, Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT and The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “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.”