Scotland business

Scottish Power grid upgrade brightens job outlook

Electricity pylons
Image caption Scottish Power plans to upgrade 500 miles of overhead lines over the next decade

Plans for 1,500 energy jobs in Scotland over 10 years are being seen as one of the best prospects for job creation.

Scottish Power's recruitment announcement comes as latest figures suggest unemployment has started rising again, despite a period of improvement.

The electricity grid is to be upgraded to meet ambitious government targets for renewable power.

The Spanish-owned power giant said grid investment and an ageing workforce meant it would need more staff.

The electricity grid is to be re-oriented to transmit energy from remote areas that have much of the wind, wave and tidal resource, to the homes and businesses where it is needed.

Scottish Power, which runs the network across central and southern Scotland, said it planned to spend £3bn over the next decade on work including upgrading 500 miles (805km) of overhead lines.

There is expected to be three times more capacity to carry power across the border to England, or to bring electricity to Scotland when the wind drops.

Frank Mitchell, chief executive of Scottish Power Energy Networks, said massive investment was required to ensure Scotland's electricity network was fit for purpose for the 21st Century.

He said: "It is important that we have a modern and robust network to support our renewable energy ambitions and to provide reliability for those who generate electricity and the homes and businesses who rely on this electricity.

"Scottish Power is committed to investing billions of pounds in our transmission network, and we are also committed to offering employment opportunities throughout our supply chain for a new generation of energy industry workers.

"It is no secret that our industry has an ageing workforce, and we need to encourage new blood into the fold."

The firm, which is part Iberdrola, is expected to recruit for graduate engineers, apprentices and technicians from other industries for re-training.

It is hoped these energy jobs - some of which will be completely new while others will replace people who have retired - could help prevent further increases in unemployment across Scotland.

Latest official figures indicated that unemployment had risen in Scotland for the first time since last autumn.

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