Renewable energy business could generate hundreds of new jobs

Investment in apprentices is at the heart of fast-growing Gloucestershire renewable energy firm Immersa, with predictions it could grow its staff team to 2,000-strong in the next five years.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Renewable energy expert Immersa says investment in apprentices is vital to the Dursley-based business's growth plans.

Renewable energy firm Immersa has already been growing at 300 per cent a year, and although still relatively small, has ambitions to become a nationwide business and create hundreds of new jobs.

Founded by former lawyer Robert Miles, and headquartered in his home town of Dursley, the firm will be seven years old in April 2023 and currently has fewer than 50 staff, but as the UK faces ever increasing pressure to become carbon neutral, it feels well-placed to capitalise.

And at the heart of its growth plans is training its future workforce, with Immersa seeing apprenticeships as key.

‘We have 28 staff now but I think we can build up to 50 by the end of 2023, to a couple of hundred in the next couple of years and in five years I would like to see as many as a couple of thousand nationally,’ said Miles, the firm's chief executive officer, who spoke to SoGlos as part of our Gloucestershire Apprenticeship Campaign 2023.

‘We have grown 300 per cent a year for the last four years. We have grown from standing still to a group with a turnover of £20 million already.’

Miles is also chief executive officer of AlphaESS's UK business, a global energy storage solution and service provider.

As firms face increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprints and with the fuel crisis reminding them of the potential cost benefits of investing, they are looking for firms with the expertise of Immersa to help them understand their options.

Its expertise is consulting, with business or residential customers, and covers everything from battery storage, electric vehicle charging, rooftop solar and ground-mounted solar, and includes evidence-based financial and technical modelling, planning and fit-out.

Miles has forged strong working relationships with SGS College in Stroud whose apprenticeship programmes deliver electrical apprentices his company needs and with his own former school of Rednock, to help spread the word about opportunities.

‘I am a governor of Rednock. I know if you can get young people interested in a profession, and explain to them the value of maths and English and STEM subjects to them getting that job and they get it, then their eyes light up. They begin to have a sense of direction,’ said Miles, who also sits on the board of powerful Gloucestershire business group and local enterprise GFirst LEP.

He added: ‘Pete Barratt at SGS Berkeley Green UTC (the college’s university technical college in Berkeley) has been brilliant and worked really closely with us.

‘I am trying to create friends in lots of places to help with how we want to train staff. The idea is to help everyone feel invested in the county,’ said Miles, who is passionate about the potential of apprenticeships and the potential of businesses to put back in a positive way into the communities in which they are based.

‘I have been talking to Bromford Housing, for example, about how we can get apprentices onto the sites they are building homes on, so they can actually learn first-hand. It would be great to see young people building the homes they will eventually potentially live in themselves.’

Making sure courses changed to suit the needs of a changing market was vital, he said.

'Currently we have a situation where you can train to be a gas fitter, and it will take four years. But very soon we will not be using gas boilers to heat our properties,’ said Miles, referring to UK Government plans to ban gas and oil boilers in newbuild homes from 2025.

In partnership with...

Founded in 1977 by a partnership of county businesses, Gloucestershire Engineering Training provides apprenticeship training for the county’s best and most innovative engineering firms and continues to support apprenticeships as a route to work and career development.

Globally successful engineering firm Renishaw was founded in 1973 by two former engineering apprentices and works across a wide variety of sectors, including aerospace, automotive and healthcare. Renishaw continues to show dedication to apprenticeships at all levels, too.

SGS College has forged strong links with businesses and helps train hundreds of students annually at Level 2, 3, 4 and higher, in everything from accounting and finance; business administration; carpentry; joinery; education and childcare; gas engineering and electrical installation; construction; teaching; HR; to customer services and more.

Helping more than 700 apprentices in Gloucestershire qualify each year in sectors ranging from catering to computing, Gloucestershire College cultivates strong relationships with businesses of all sizes to understand what they need and to support students through to a successful career.

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