Awards celebrate procurement initiative’s success in driving skills investment

  • Twenty-eight energy and utilities companies are receiving an award for promoting investment in skills and training through the Procurement Skills Accord
  • The Accord has stimulated a number of advances for the sector, including an increase in the percentage of the eligible workforce accessing training
  • The Accord was piloted in October 2016 by five sector companies and the number of signatories has since grown to 38
  • The Accord requires signatories to adhere to five audited commitments

Energy and utilities companies that signed a pledge to promote investment in training and development through procurement across their supply chains are being recognised at a ceremony today at the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham.

The event has been organised to coincide with the release of the Annual Report results of the Procurement Skills Accord which chart the initiative’s performance during its first year.

The companies have committed to:

1)         address sector-wide skills gaps & shortages

2)         promote signing up to the Accord through their supply chain

3)         promote relevant skills development across the supply chain through procurement

4)         continuously improve performance

5)         monitor and report relevant performance

The Annual Report results include a series of encouraging outcomes:

  • nearly 74% of eligible companies (28 of 38) achieved the commitments.
  • of the 28, four attained over 95% of available marks.
  • close to 70% of the companies with a relevant supply chain onboarded at least one new suppler.
  • eighty-six percent of signatories demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement through sustainable workforce practices.
  • a 1.5% increase in the percentage of the eligible workforce of nearly 39,000 were given access to technical and operational training during the last year – up from 9.5% to 11%.

The 2015 National Infrastructure Plan for Skillsidentified a number of challenges across sectors, regions and skills groups, to keep productivity high, costs affordable and ensure the delivery of the infrastructure pipeline to 2020 and beyond.

One of the key challenges was to find a mechanism to incentivise skills investment through procurement and engagement approaches that would provide appropriate incentives to retrain and up-skill the workforce to meet future skills demands. The energy and utilities sector’s work to meet this challenge through the Procurement Skills Accord Project was recognised and welcomed by Her Majesty’s Treasury.

The Accord was piloted in October 2016 by Amey, National Grid, SSEN, Thames Water and UK Power Networks. This group led the development of the concept and consulted on the approach to procurement and investment in training with their strategic suppliers. The number of signatories, of lead and supply chain companies, has since grown to 38 – over 90% of these companies would recommend others join them.

Colin Nicol, Managing Director of SSEN, said:

“As one of the organisations involved in the development of the concept, SSEN is very proud of the achievements of the Procurement Skills Accord over the last two years. The initiative is now widely recognised and, by taking steps to proactively promote the Accord and integrate its use within our systems, we are now seeing real benefits.

“SSEN is a people and assets business and we recognise that investing in a healthy and diverse pipeline of talent is vital to our future success. The benefits of having a proactive and collective approach to the skills shortage are clear and we remain committed to working collaboratively across the sector to ensure a skilled and sustainable workforce for 2020 and beyond.”

Kate Davies, Chief Operating Officer at Energy & Utility Skills,* said: “The Procurement Skills Accord was built by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership and it is exciting to see such progress after just one year. The Procurement Skills Accord’s commitments are robust and are part of ensuring our sector proactively tackles its skills challenges through investment in its current workforce through the supply chain as well as creating new opportunities. By focusing on formal training programmes targeted in areas of current and future skills shortages, participating companies are ensuring appropriate impact in the right place. The results achieved and the awards are well deserved.”

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive at Energy & Utility Skills, added: “The results of the Procurement Skills Accord shows how structured collaboration between the asset holders and their supply chain partners increases investment in training and builds valuable resilience in to the sector’s workforce.

“We can all talk about achieving resilient UK infrastructure, but unless you have the people and capabilities to make it resilient, it’s an arbitrary point. The workforce in the utility sector, is delivering the largest single contribution to the £0.5 trillion National Infrastructure Plan and daily essential services of key strategic value to the UK economy.” 

The Accord steering group is inviting sector employers to consider signing up. Initial enquiries can be made via   

Read more about the Accord here and its proceeding to full roll-out here.

The energy and utilities sector combined accounts for the greatest share of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (2017/18 - 2020/21). The combined share is 43% (£104.8bn), which is significantly greater than the next largest category – transport at £78.5bn, which is responsible for 29% of 2017/18 – 2020/21 Pipeline.

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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