The SSE Story
SSE is one of the leading energy companies in the UK, with interests in electricity and gas production, distribution, supply and services.
One of SSE’s core values is teamwork - believing the organisation will only be successful financially if it exercises a wider corporate responsibility to others, including communities, customers and its people.
SSE’s was keen to expand the existing skills and experience of their staff through an understanding and application of key perspectives in strategic management in a business context. We worked closely with SSE’s Learning and Development manager to create a flexible, one-year, work-based degree that fit SSE’s human capital and business strategy and produced clear business benefits.
Education for the real world
SSE identified a need to build a talent pipeline to support succession needs across its commercial areas. We are excited by this programme that combines real business experience with structured learning and support.
Launched in 2010, the innovative Business and Management Studies programme recruits talented people to support key areas of SSE’s expanding business operations - spanning customer services, energy sales, energy service, marketing and corporate areas. Through recognition of prior learning, the programme can accelerate the development of employees with management potential in support of SSE’s Management Development Framework.
The development of academic, personal and professional competencies were applied in the workplace and adding the dimension of reflective practice has proven to be especially useful. Combining their own business experience with academic expertise enabled managers to undertake new approaches to become more effective in their roles which has delivered visible and positive change in performance.
In 2013, we went on to create a Business Academy with SSE, which directly recruits graduates who rotate around four placements a year to gain work based experience in the key elements of SSE business. The Business Academy students undertake the same programmes of study, share the same learning environments as existing members of staff and by so doing create a unique model of peer assisted learning which exemplifies SSE’s core values.
Real education, real value
The partnership has grown and diversified to not only continue with existing members of staff, but also with selected new employees who are recruited specifically for leadership and management and whom are automatically registered into the SSE Business Academy. So far, the programme has supported over 80 managers from SSE operations throughout the UK to achieve their degree.
An independent evaluation of the programme found a wide, positive impact on SSE employees, on their teams and across the organisation as a whole, characterised by efficiency savings, improved performance, improved morale and more staff operating at a higher strategic level in their day-to-day work. SSE respondents agreed the learning experience had improved their ability to think strategically. 97% found improvements to their critical thinking and research skills. 97% of respondents reported an increase in their capability, while 90% of respondents agreed their overall learning had increased.
The programme has been so successful that SSE is expanding its Business Academy by opening a school in London in May 2015 to further support staff development in business units in Networks, Retail and Enterprise, spanning the south of England.