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These latest figures published earlier this year show that current levels of youth unemployment is at 18.8%, more than double that of the average age working population. The reality being that nearly a fifth of 16-24 year-olds in Scotland wake up every morning wondering if their country needs them..
According to Sir Ian Woods’s new report, Scotland’s vocational education system must be improved if youth unemployment is to fall. He launched the report aimed at getting more young Scots into work recommending that employers play a far bigger role in schools and colleges.
One company that prides itself on committing to the next generation of employees is subsea applications manufacturer Hydro Group.
Hydro Group cultivates a learning and progressive atmosphere, understanding the value of its people and realising their talent. The company invests heavily in training and apprenticeship schemes, developing personal knowledge and competency standards, which in turn, benefits the company as a whole.
Human resources director Irene Buxton explains that, with 22% of their staff under the age of 24, directors at Hydro Group agree with the recent report commissioned by Sir Ian Wood.
“The government continues to introduce more and more low-cost initiatives to assist young people find employment. In my opinion these are palliative measures for the long-term ailment of employers not providing real, meaningful and properly paid jobs. Employers should not wait for government handouts and conversely, the government should give realistic financial support.
“Of high importance for Hydro Group, is the policy that no employee starts on or below the national minimum wage. At Hydro Group we pride ourselves on paying employees a living wage, while covering costs for college fees and we also provide all personal protective and corporate clothing – it doesn’t come out of their wages. Of equal importance, in the days of zero hours and fixed term contracts, all of the Group’s contracts of employment are permanent, creating stability for each and every employee.”
Opportunities to enhance their skill sets are given to all members of staff; employees under the age of 21 have the option to attend day release at local colleges whilst still receiving full pay, and those over 21 have the opportunity to attend night classes or distance learning at Hydro Group’s expense.
Ms Buxton continues: “At Hydro Group we have trainees and apprentices in nearly every department. We have a ‘Grow our own’ policy for recruitment, taking on youngsters, developing and training them to go as far as possible within the company.
“The majority of oil & gas companies in the Grampian region create a culture of short-term contracts, paying premiums for staff on a temporary basis. This makes it extremely difficult for other companies, particularly SMEs, to recruit skilled staff.”
Following Sir Ian Wood’s report, the commission spent 18 months consulting with the oil and gas industry and education sector, looking at ways as to how the country’s system of vocational education could be improved.
Results highlighted that, with measures mirroring Hydro Group’s ethos, youth unemployment could be cut by 40%.
Scotland’s youth employment minister has said work will be done to take the recommendations forward, building bridges between school and college into business and industry.
Lynn Rennie joins Hydro Group in the position of Programme Manager, handling a range of projects across the engineering, production, logistic and quality departments. She will be responsible for establishing individual cross functioning teams for each project and throughout its lifecycle ensuring it is delivered on time, whilst adhering to Hydro Group’s stringent safety, and quality requirements and remaining within budget.
Ms Rennie brings 14 years project management experience to the position. Most recently she worked for Scottish Enterprise as Project Manager for Energetica, a long term programme of projects involving energy, tourism, infrastructure and inward investment activity, covering a 30 mile development corridor from the Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, to Peterhead.
Ms Rennie said: “My involvement over the years in developing teams and delivering high quality project work positions me well for the new role. Hydro Group is evolving impressively and, with a number of demanding projects planned, this is an exciting time to join the company.”
Ian Walters joins Hydro Group as Engineering Manager, overseeing a team of 15 engineers and draughtsmen, handling a range of engineering projects from conception to completion. Ian brings 12 years managerial experience to the role, most recently having held the position of Team Manager at EnerSys Advanced Systems, a global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications.
In his role as Engineering Manager he will also be responsible for supporting the production and testing departments, solving tooling and processing problems, provide engineering and technical advice to all internal departments at Hydro Group and liaising with customers to advise and provide design solutions.
Mr Walters said: “My previous role involved the management of the product development team, and the design and employment of newapplications and solutions. I worked with a wide range of customers and suppliers to obtain an in depth knowledge and understanding of the customers’ needs, to ensure a high quality service was provided throughout the development cycle or project. This experience will be highly beneficial to my new role at Hydro Group, providing customers and clients with the ideal solution to their engineering requirements.”
Doug Whyte, Hydro Group Managing Director, said: “The Company is going from strength to strength and growing at a significant rate, leading to the creation of these roles to deal with the increased level of design and development initiatives with our customers.
“Together Lynn and Ian bring impressive managerial experience to the company, understanding the skills required to lead a team and see a project from inception through to completion. Both are highly knowledgeable and people-skilled managers, and will instil confidence with our customers, maintaining excellent relationships, whilst adding to the successful future of Hydro Group.”
Hydro Group plc, subsea cable systems manufacturer, made up of Hydro Bond Engineering and HydroCable Systems Ltd, is a major global supplier of harsh environment engineered products to the offshore oil and gas, defence, oceanographic, renewable energies, diving and ROV/AUV markets.
“The new connector is a significant advance on our previous product with an impressive reduction in installation time from 24 hours to less than 12 hours, and its ability to carry three times more power,” said Doug Whyte, Hydro Group managing director. “Originally developed for the UK renewable market, the connector is being showcased at the Subsea Tieback to offer exhibition goers an insight into the heritage, expertise and technical innovation the team at Hydro Group possess and an opportunity to explore the many ways Hydro Group’s technological innovations can be adapted for the US market.”
Hydro Group’s current R&D program includes trialling various low smoke flame retardant materials to address single cable designs capable of operating between separate boundaries from topside to subsea.
With the percentage of UK workers over 65 having reached the one million mark – the highest figure on record (Office of National Statistics (ONS), June 2013), workplaces, managers and employers need to adapt to the changing requirements for workplace performance.