Banff-based ACE Winches pioneers energy sector’s involvement with Investors in People Scotland


Some members of the ACE Winches team, who were the first to be accredited to Investors in People Scotland
Members of the ACE Winches team who were the first to be accredited to Investors in People Scotland include, from left: Jack Simpson (craft modern apprentice) Colleen Bowie (business modern apprentice), Laura Peacock from IIYP, Valerie Cheyne, CCO, Shirley Butcher, HR Manager, and Ross Cowie (graduate).

Getting the right people with the right skills into the right job at the right time is an evergreen issue for business.

But with Scotland’s offshore energy industry struggling to compete against a background of 50% cut in the price N. Sea crude oil, as well as hundreds of redundancies announced in recent weeks, why should supply companies even be thinking of investing in, never mind, recruiting young people?

But that’s what nearly 100 companies have done by becoming accredited to the Investors in People Scotland award scheme – which was one of the key recommendations in a skills review led by industry guru Sir Ian Wood.

Peter Russian, Chief Executive, Investors in People Scotland, explained: “Investment in young people can be justified by highlighting that businesses need young people just as much as young people need jobs. Engaging with young people and providing them with opportunities is an investment that pays off. 

“The Scottish workforce needs young people, for new ideas, creativity and for future proofing successful business strategies.  It is crucial, especially as the country is emerging from recession, we provide young people with the chance to develop skills, confidence and knowledge as we move forward towards a more productive economic future. 

The Investors in Young People accreditation scheme is offered to all businesses across Scotland, across all sectors.  But the energy industry is one we are paying particular attention to as it’s crucial at this point in time, we work to attract the next generation of energy professionals into the industry and help develop their skills and capabilities to meet the challenges of the future.

“For some years, the energy industry has registered a steady decline in the numbers of new recruits entering the sector, with science, engineering and technical (SET) skills particularly affected. Many parts of the industry have been undergoing slower growth rates, but until relatively recently, the situation had been manageable.

“However, over the last decade, the risk of future serious shortages in SET skills has emerged, exacerbated by increasing global demand, large scale downsizing leading to lack of recruitment into the energy sector, and a large section of the industry’s workforce rapidly approaching retirement. Such shortages would be felt at all professional levels, from technical specialists and operators to leaders and senior managers.

“There are various challenges within the energy industry that we are addressing through the IIYP initiative. Currently there is the risk that energy companies may not have sufficient leadership talent to meet the industry’s future challenges and internal training and development programmes are delivering insufficient numbers of trained personnel to develop into senior roles. 

“Alongside this, research has shown that a very low percentage of secondary school pupils would consider a career in the energy industry, with students underestimating the range of professions and trades employed within the sector. 

“With IIYP we aim to help Scottish businesses across the energy sectors recruit and develop young people to ensure the development of a talent pipeline for the future.

We are keen to help raise the profile of the energy industry as one of the most exciting to work in to combat increasing competition from other industries for these shortage skills – the sector needs to be well presented to young people as a prime career choice.  

“One company that I’m sure would back me up on this is ACE Winches, the Banff-based deck machinery specialist. It recently became the first organisation ever to achieve the IIYP accreditation and is committed to engaging and developing young people through schools, work experience and apprenticeships, as well as trainee and graduate schemes. 

“The IIYP scheme has allowed ACE Winches to gather feedback against its business priorities of sustained global growth, profitability and innovation.

“Our goal is to help businesses realise their potential through people.  Alongside the Investors in Young People accreditation, we offer the Investors in People accreditation at three different levels, bronze, silver and gold.  We offer a wealth of advisory services around different business issues and also offer the Health & Wellbeing Award, which helps organisations improve performance by fostering a happy, healthy workforce.

“Research shows that Investors in People-accredited organisations are more profitable, sustainable and optimistic about the future.”

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