Scottish Power’s call for 1,000 new recruits to speed up the UK’s journey to Net Zero has been answered by a trio of skilled women from Ukraine who’ve settled in Scotland due to the conflict back home.
Anastasiia Kharchenko, Alona Lystopad and Maryna Saienko – pictured – are among the first batch of employees to start work at the green energy firm in 2023, a year on from the start of war criminal Vladimir Putin’s assault on their homeland.
All three have resettled in Scotland, bringing with them skills and experience applied now to new roles ranging from operating onshore windfarms, to digital operations and materials buying.
The trio have all joined Scottish Power under its Returners Programme, which provides people taking a career break of at least 12 months with opportunities to re-enter the workplace in STEM roles. The scheme offers placements of at least nine months, paying a minimum of £29,100, plus benefits.
As well as refreshing skills, the programme also helps build the confidence of those returning to the working environment after a prolonged break.
Maryna, from Donetsk in Ukraine’s Russian-dominated east, has settled in Glasgow with her mother, husband and their daughters. She will be working with ScottishPower’s procurement team, employing her experience in analysis and tender management from the power industry in Ukraine.
She said: “Since moving here I’ve wanted to feel useful, help people and contribute to my new society. I was looking for a job here for around five months, with many rejections, before finding out about the Returners Programme. In the meantime, I’d been volunteering with a charity and trying to improve my English.
“I want to leave the world a better place for my girls, and hopefully someday my grandchildren too.”
Maryna added: “ScottishPower has really supported us at the darkest moment in our life and having a job to us means having something permanent in our life.
Anastasiia, 28, from Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region, graduated in 2016 from Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Chernivtsi and worked in the research, data analysis and innovation field before war broke out. She moved to Glasgow last year with her mum.
This week she started work at ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee wind farm in Dumfries, Britain’s biggest onshore turbine park.
She said: “I’m really excited to be based at Whitelee Windfarm. Looking after the environment really matters to me and it’s wonderful to feel part of a company that really wants to make a difference.
“I’ve been in Scotland since June last year and I really like it here, even the weather.
“With my new team, I’ll learn technical skills, but there’s also coaching and personal development too with extra support around confidence and team building. It’s a new life for us all here and a chance to play an active role in our new home.”
Alona graduated from Ukrainian State University of Finance & International Trade, Kyiv in 2012 and worked in a senior IT role before relocating to Glasgow’s south side last year.
As well as joining ScottishPower’s digital team, she volunteers with OPORA, a charity that supports Ukrainians to settle and sustainably rebuild their lives in the UK.
She added: “Working in the digital team at ScottishPower is great, we have lots of different people from different countries which has really helped me settle in. English is a new language for me, and I’m learning to adapt to the Scottish accent too, but much of the approach to digital here is similar to what I’ve done before in Ukraine.
“Since joining the company, I’ve been supported at all steps either with mentoring or learning new skills. There’s still a lot for to learn as it’s a really big company but I’m very happy to be here. It’s been hard to think about the future and my career, but I just want to work and make a difference. ScottishPower is helping me do exactly that.”
Melanie Hill, ScottishPower’s social projects director, heads up the firm’s three-year old Returners Programme. She said: “We’ve all witnessed the impact of the war in Ukraine and the upheaval that many people have gone through.
“At ScottishPower, we’re proud to be able to offer placements on the returners programme to these three highly skilled women, helping build their skills and confidence through our mentoring programme while support their long-term career prospects.
“Accelerating net zero is at the heart of everything we’re doing and we’ve a huge pipeline of projects to deliver over the next decade. We’re looking for people from all walks of life who want to make a real difference and our returners programme provides us with wider access to the talent that’s out there that can sometimes be hidden. This is a classic situation where the individuals win, and the business benefits too.”
Interest declared: This writer is privileged & blessed to have hosted three Ukrainian refugees, thanks to the superlative support of the Refugees at Home charity.