Scottish Water develops young workforce through partnership with Powering Futures

Some of the 150 young Scottish Water employees who successfully completed the Powering Futures sustainability and employability Challenge Programme

SCOTTISH Water has paired with Powering Futures to bring a pioneering sustainability and skills development programme to its young workforce. 

Since 2021, over 150 Scottish Water apprentices and graduates have taken part in the Powering Futures Challenge Programme where they take on a real-world climate challenge, collaborate on a solution, and present it – building key skills in collaboration, presentation and sustainability in the process. 

Scottish Water’s engagement of the young talent within the workforce has seen participants work together to solve real-life sustainability challenges for the organisation, contributing towards Scottish Water’s progress to net zero targets whilst also enhancing participants’ skills and connections across the business. 

The 25 apprentices currently participating in the Powering Futures Challenge Programme presented their creative solutions to various real-life challenges at a showcase event last month at Scottish Water’s headquarters in Stepps. The three Challenges were: ways to understand household water use within the home without using conventional meters, alternative and sustainable means of power generation on Scottish Water sites, and how to power critical instruments in a more environmentally friendly way.

With senior leaders from within Scottish Water involved in the judging process for the Powering Futures Challenge Programme, a major outcome has been a commitment from the leadership to take forward each of the solutions presented by the Challenge participants. 

Peter Farrer, Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Water, said:

“Using the untapped talent in our business has allowed us to harness new ideas and solutions that have a real and measurable impact. The 14-week Challenge programme has allowed the apprentices to develop and connect with each other and with experts throughout our organisation. This will bring benefits to them and us for years to come – and proves that sustainability-focused solutions are not just good for the planet, but for the bottom line too.”

Powering Futures was set up in 2020 to bring together the employers of today and the employees of tomorrow, working towards the shared goals of prosperity and sustainability. Its programme empowers the young and future workforce with the skills, critical thinking and enthusiasm to help their organisation transition to net zero.

Partnering with businesses to help them solve real-time climate change challenges, Powering Futures tasks teams with solving a sustainability problem set by industry or their employer, and supports them in coming up with creative solutions through teamwork and climate skills. 

Jennifer Tempany, Co-Founder of Powering Futures, said:

“As a Scottish institution and a major employer, Scottish Water already has a strong focus on people – whether in terms of staff development, its external customer focus or its goals to bring cutting-edge sustainability solutions to the industry. Powering Futures is delighted to continue to play a role in empowering Scottish Water’s talented young workforce to come up with creative results that will not only support the bottom line of the business, but deliver massive carbon savings too.

“Through the Powering Futures Challenge Programme, we are bringing together today’s employers with tomorrow’s employees to solve real-time sustainability challenges and work towards future economic prosperity. The example set by the Scottish Water Challenge team proves that this model works – for businesses, the future workforce, and the climate.” 

Scottish Water’s support for Powering Futures also saw them act as headline sponsor for a major Powering Futures event held at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth in November 2022, where more than 60 school pupils from across Scotland took part in a ‘super sprint’ National Challenge demonstration to business leaders and the Scottish Government’s then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley Anne Somerville MSP, and then Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, Richard Lochhead MSP.

Local MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Fulton MacGregor said:

“Powering Futures are doing some fantastic work making sure our young workforce are equipped and in place to tackle sustainability challenges.

“It’s great to see them operating in my constituency in partnership with Scottish Water who are empowering their apprentices.

“Young folk are the future of our workforces so it’s amazing to see them encouraged to harness their talents for innovation and fresh new ideas. I look forward to seeing this work first hand in the near future!”

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