News | Published January 17 2020

Short-term Brexit skills shortfall could help firms like Alba Power retrain staff with custom apprenticeship schemes

With Boris Johnson’s Brexit set to materialise on January 31 and take full effect in 2021, there is a looming possibility that new restrictions on migration could impact employers and concerns that UK businesses could face a shortfall of qualified staff.

Domestically, many industries are affected by an existing and persistent skills gap which is already proving problematic. Indeed, the shortcomings of the existing apprenticeship levy only brings the problem further under the microscope. However, a short-term skills shortage fuelled by Brexit may provide an opportunity for employees who want to diversify their careers and employers who wish to help them do just that, rather than exacerbate the existing issue.

The ready availability of distance learning and education means that re-skilling is possible even around an individual’s existing commitments, which makes the prospect of retraining very much achievable. Yet, in some niche sectors, some businesses who have or are developing their own apprenticeship schemes could use this period to truly test their training methods and benefit from enrolling individuals who are willing to take a new career path and retrain. Alba Power is one of them.

The Aberdeen based business, which has been trading since 2003, specialises in the overhaul, supply and decommissioning of gas marine and power turbines.

The general manager and director of the firm, Neil McKenzie, spoke to The Parliamentary Review about the specifics of their work and how they hope the launching of their own apprenticeship scheme will address the skills shortfall.

McKenzie said: “Because we’re a niche company working in a niche area, many of the problems we face lack precedent, so we must chart our own territory.

“This also means we must provide bespoke solutions, which is both a challenge and advantage for us. Although it allows us to provide a service that many others cannot provide, it also means we have to recruit in a very specialist manner.

There are not a lot of trained people in this sector, so we’ve decided to create our own apprenticeship scheme, which will help us in terms of staffing. Although this is a challenge, it is one that we gladly and reliably meet”.

Of course, how the inevitable skills shortfall from a shortage of EU workers ultimately affects the longstanding skills shortage is yet to be determined as if the future of the apprenticeship levy, but from a business standpoint there are undeniably opportunities for businesses to take advantage of, should they switch focus and target those closer to home who have potential to adopt new skills.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 17 2020

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