Mobilising a Million
The UK’s emerging green economy and businesses like Drax will play an important role in supporting levelling-up and closing regional economic and productivity gaps across the UK.
New skills are required as we look to develop new technologies, including BECCS. It is also important we ensure people local to our operations are equipped with the skills to take advantage of these opportunities. At the heart of this, our Mobilising a Million initiative aims to improve skills, education, employability and opportunity for 1 million people by 2025.
Drax is working with trade unions and businesses in the North to galvanise support for enhanced jobs and skills for the region. Analysis by Vivid Economics estimates tens of thousands of jobs could be created and supported in the Humber if BECCS, as well as hydrogen and other carbon removal technologies, are deployed to decarbonise industry. With UK Government backing, these new jobs could begin to be created as early as 2024.
Building the skills of the future
To drive forward our aims, in 2020 we established a five-year partnership with Selby College. We committed £180,000 to deliver community education programmes and retraining, to support people in our communities to develop new skills needed for jobs in the green economy. Our continued partnership with Teach First has enabled the recruitment and training of nine Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers in 2020, supporting the STEM education of 1,125 students.
Apprentices and graduates
We are a signatory to the UK cross-party Social Mobility Pledge, which is committed to accessing and progressingtalent from all backgrounds. During the year, we focused on apprenticeships and use of the Apprenticeship Levy to recruit new talent and develop our colleagues. The number of Degree Apprenticeships undertaken by colleagues has increased, from five Degree Apprenticeships commenced in 2019 to 12 commenced in 2020, with a specific focus on MBAs, Data Science and Finance qualifications.
Of the 15 graduates we recruited in 2018, retention during the programme was 93% and all of those completing the programme in 2020 secured permanent roles at Drax. In 2020, despite the challenges of Covid-19, we continued development programmes for graduates recruited in 2019, and we took on an additional three graduates and seven Year in Industry students.
In 2021, Drax plans to launch a virtual work experience programme, and to create further apprenticeships in a diverse range of career paths, to support the delivery of our business strategy.
Community and charity
We deliver charitable and employee volunteering initiatives in the communities where we operate. In 2020, Drax’s total social contribution was £1 million*, including donations through employee match funding, payroll giving, our community fund, community partnerships and fundraising days.
In February 2020, we donated £25,000 to Snaith Priory to help local recovery efforts, following flooding in villages nearby to Drax Power Station. We donated $30,000 to help families and businesses in the parishes around our pellet mills in Louisiana and Mississippi in the US, impacted by both the Covid-19 crisis and tornadoes. Following Hurricane Laura, we also donated $20,000 to the Food Banks of Northeast and Central Louisiana.
Prior to Covid-19, our power stations at Drax in England and Cruachan in Scotland welcomed students for free educational tours. During the Covid-19 crisis, we have expanded our online offering – creating virtual tours and educational content, delivering webinars to university students, and provided a virtual experience of work in partnership with the Oak National Academy – to ensure students were able to continue learning.