Bright sparks among Borderers at new training academy

Left to right: Nathaniel Kotkin-Smith of Selkirk,
Euan Pringle of Tweedbank, Marika Walkowiak of Hawick, Jamie Mitchell of Galashiels, Lisa Sharkey of Hawick, Jamie Grieve of Selkirk, Emma Cavaroli of Ettrick Bridge, Nikki Alexander of Selkirk, Pierce Solley of Hawick, Jane Braithwaite of Galahiels, Robin Sapkota of Selkirk.

Left to right: Nathaniel Kotkin-Smith of Selkirk, Euan Pringle of Tweedbank, Marika Walkowiak of Hawick, Jamie Mitchell of Galashiels, Lisa Sharkey of Hawick, Jamie Grieve of Selkirk, Emma Cavaroli of Ettrick Bridge, Nikki Alexander of Selkirk, Pierce Solley of Hawick, Jane Braithwaite of Galahiels, Robin Sapkota of Selkirk.

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A group of 20 Borderers are celebrating after becoming the first graduates of Spark Energy’s newly-opened Spark Academy in Selkirk.

The team of account managers will now handle enquiries at Spark Energy’s contact centre as part of the company’s expanding customer service department.

Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

The academy aims to train new employees who live within 10-miles of the company’s Ettrick Riverside-based headquarters.

Its graduates have since taken part in three-week long training courses carried out by an award winning training team, some of whom are accredited by the Institute of Customer Services, the leading industry body with whom the electricity and gar supplier has worked since 2014.

John Hawkins, Spark Energy’s director of people and culture, set up the academy to allow staff to achieve additional skills and qualifications through the Institute of Customer Service.

He said: “Congratulations to each of the twenty employees who have successfully completed their induction training in the Spark Academy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened Spark Academy in November 2016.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened Spark Academy in November 2016.

“Recruiting and up-skilling people is a core element of our business which wouldn’t exist if we didn’t provide excellent customer service.

“As part of this we’re also fully committed to the Borders and are extremely proud to create jobs which support young people while increasing economic growth in the region.

“The company is an excellent place to work, with many avenues for progression, attractive perks and a rewarding benefits package so as we continue to recruit, I’d advise anyone who is looking for a new challenge, whether part of full-time, to check our website for vacancies.”

Through its new academy, the company is ensuring its new employees are well-trained as well as to increase the skills of those currently employed by delivering in-house training and development. The company has also been developing links with local and national skills and employment programmes.

MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk Calum Kerr said: “Spark Energy have demonstrated an impressive commitment to our region and a clear understanding that the Borders is an excellent place to do business.

“With the company still recruiting and offering high quality training to many of its existing staff, employers like Spark are exactly what our region needs. Over the years we’ve become all too familiar with young people having to leave to find work and opportunities elsewhere: so it’s great to see these trainees start out on new careers – and have the chance to develop them – right here in the Borders.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the graduates of this scheme and commend Spark Energy for investing in the skills of our young people – the most vital asset that we have.”

The company was initially set up in Edinburgh back in 2007 before moving to the Ettrick Riverside location a year later. However, the training centre was officially opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon just last November when it was announced that the energy supplier would be creating 69 new jobs.

At the time of opening the academy, Ms Sturgeon said Spark is a “fantastic company” that has “got a big emphasis on training their staff, looking after their staff, looking after their wellbeing and using that not just to the benefit of staff but to improve customer service as well,”

It is hoped that additional jobs at the company will take the total staff number to over 400.

The team are encouraging people to apply for vacancies via the company website. Applications may be made at https://sparkenergy.co.uk/careers.

Those who graduated are Nathaniel Kotkin-Smith of Selkirk, Euan Pringle of Tweedbank, Marika Walkowiak of Hawick, Jamie Mitchell of Galashiels, Lisa Sharkey of Hawick Jamie Grieve of Selkirk Emma Cavaroli of Ettrick Bridge, Nikki Alexander of Selkirk, Pierce Solley of Hawick, Jane Braithwaite of Gala, Robin Sapkota of Selkirk, Eva Thomson of Kelso, Matthew Scott of Newtown St Boswells, Morgan Stewart of Denholm, Jamie G Mitchell of Gala, Chris Stansfield of Selkirk, Mark Brebner of Gala, Louise Renwick of Hawick and Shaun Wilson of Selkirk.