UK: SSE and University of Highlands and Islands Sign Partnership Agreement

UK: SSE and University of Highlands and Islands Sign Partnership Agreement

SSE and the University of Highlands and Islands have signed a ‘partnership agreement’ to collaborate and work together to maximise the benefits to the people of the Highlands and Islands from the low carbon energy revolution in the Highlands and Islands.

Speaking at the University’s Research and Development conference Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE – Scotland’s leading renewable energy generator and developer – will also set out a range of commitments to support this, including a new apprenticeship programme and a commitment to target local areas around proposed new developments for the recruitment and training of future employees, particularly in Caithness and Sutherland and in the Great Glen.

There is significant investment planned by the energy industry over the next ten years. SSE’s contribution to this could potentially be £5-10bn in the Highlands and Islands alone, across its energy networks, renewable generation and energy services businesses. Both SSE and the University recognise the importance of collaboration to ensure the skills and people are in place to take advantage of this opportunity.

The partnership agreement establishes a new steering group to oversee this collaboration between SSE and the University and to ensure local businesses and communities are also engaged. Key areas for collaboration and opportunity exist both in creating the right training infrastructure and in promoting innovation and research. The partnership will build on the £3m that SSE has already committed to training and skills in the Highlands.

 SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said: “We recognise that the communities in which we work and operate are very important and that SSE has a valuable role in contributing to the local economy of these communities. SSE is committed to making sure that Highland businesses and communities benefit from, and have a real part in, what we believe is a very exciting time for the Highlands.

 “Quite rightly the people in the Great Glen or Caithness and Sutherland ask the question – ‘can our young people be trained and employed to run your existing and future power stations and wind farms?’ The answer to that from me, is an emphatic yes! Should our projects currently in the planning system gain planning approval, we make this commitment – SSE will target areas such as Lairg and the wider Sutherland area, Fort Augustus and the Great Glen, and work with the schools and colleges in these areas to bring young people into our industry and train them so that they get the best chance of long term employment.

 “This new strategic partnership between SSE and the University of the Highlands and Islands will play a significant part in ensuring this happens. There is no doubt that this new University with its diverse range of colleges and research centres spread across the region will play a key role in providing the skills, training and expertise we need in future.

 “SSE already employs over 2,000 direct employees and contractors in the Highlands, operating our power stations electricity networks, retail outlets and in our growing energy services business. We are determined to see the benefit of renewable energy continue to flow into these same communities and to enable a new generation of local people to connect with and find employment from Energy.”

Welcoming the partnership, University of the Highlands and Islands Principal and Vice-Chancellor, James Fraser said:

 “The University is delighted to sign this collaborative agreement with SSE. The University partnership of 13 colleges and research centres is unique in encompassing both further and higher education and in covering the whole of the Highlands and Islands, including Moray, Perth and Kinross.

 “SSE and its supply chain need highly trained staff. We can help deliver these skills through our collective expertise in further education and knowledge from higher education. The University is ready to play a key role in supporting the transformation of the Highlands and Islands economy through the development of the renewable energy industry, the electricity grid and the continued progress of oil and gas.”

 “It is very fitting to announce this collaborative venture at our annual Research Conference. In addition to teaching and training in the longer term we expect to provide research and consultancy to SSE as it tackles some of the new challenges posed by the new energy industry.”


Press release, November 09, 2012; Image: ewea