White paper calls for greater skills investment to push forward projects

Report finds that investment in 'human capital' yields more than four times return for energy firm

Failure to invest in people and skills could hamper the delivery of the UK’s crucial utilities and infrastructure projects, according to a new study.

The Energy & Utility Skills Partnership and SSE have published a white paper calling on the government and businesses to better recognise and value  the importance of a sustainable, skilled workforce.

As part of the report, SSE has calculated that, for every £1 of investment it has made in apprenticeship training, there has been a return of £4.29. That figure rises to £7.65 for technical trainees.

The energy company commissioned PwC to better estimate the value of its human capital. The auditing firm found that SSE’s human capital was valued at around £3.4bn as of a April 2014, equating to an average of £173,000 per head.

The report also demonstrated the wider benefits of this investment. PwC estimated that the overall economic impact of SSE’s investment in human capital was a contribution of £27bn to the UK economy over three years, when taking into account increased tax payments.

“The white paper demonstrates that both a company and society benefits from proper investment in its workforce through increased earnings for individuals and resulting increased tax payments,” said John Stewart, HR director at SSE.

“People, and the skills those people have, are the key to turning investment in infrastructure into energy, clean water and a better environment.”

Nick Ellins, chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, added: “The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership recently published the sector’s first Workforce Renewal and Strategy, showing that collective action is needed to secure the talent the sector needs.

“As a whole, the sector is the largest single contributor to the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan and plays an essential role in narrowing the productivity gap between the UK and our international competitors.

“Failure to secure the skilled workforce required to deliver such infrastructure projects could lead to higher project costs, delays, reduced quality, reliance on overseas skills, loss of intellectual property, stifled innovation and damage to the UK economy and its global competitiveness. The white paper highlights that people are a critical asset that needs to be quantified and that the value of a resilient and sustainable workforce needs to be recognised.”

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