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Skills for Growth provides Gaeltel with the spark to take on new staff

Susan Pellegrom, Chief Operating Officer at Gaeltel talks to us about how Skills for Growth has helped their business to identify the people and skills it needs to continue to grow and thrive in the future.

We’re a small business based in Fochabers, specialising in providing Smart Energy Solutions to other businesses, helping them to find the most efficient ways to cut their consumption, carbon and energy costs. We work with our customers to understand their energy needs and then identify and install the best solutions for them. We also have access to an extensive portfolio of technologies – everything from smart meters, anaerobic digesters, hydrogen technology, LED retrofitting, biomass heating and much more

The current market is full of opportunity for the services we offer at Gaeltel. We know that legislative requirements mean that larger businesses across the UK will need to look at their carbon footprint and make required adjustments to reduce their energy consumption. 


There are no up-front costs to our customers as the cost of the Smart Energy Solutions is woven into their utility bills which means that the savings from reducing their energy usage cover the costs of the required solutions. It’s a cost-effective way to cut both carbon footprint and overall energy costs. 

We’re the only business to provide this type of smart energy advisory service alongside the range of products and services to businesses as a single source and we’ve found ourselves in a period of rapid growth. So when we first heard about Skills for Growth through Michelle Denoon, an Employer Engagement Adviser at Skills Development Scotland, we were keen to see how it might help us think about the longer-term people and skills needs of the business. 

We already have a very open and inclusive culture in place at Gaeltel where people admire, trust and respect each other and this is a great platform to build on as we look to the future.

Going through Skills for Growth resulted in several benefits for us, with a key outcome being the support that we got around recruitment and onboarding. This specialist support included advice on several different tools such as: New Start Induction Checklist; Draft Employee Handbook; Privacy Notice; In case of emergency contact form; Right to Work Checklist; and Probation Review Checklist. As a result of this we were well equipped to recruit and went on to bring in a local graduate to fill a business administration role within the company. This has been great for us because it made the recruitment process simple and efficient. A huge benefit to us as employers.

We were also signposted to funding available through the Kickstart scheme and the Moray Employer Recruitment Incentive, secured funding towards the cost of the salary for our new business administrator and potentially being able to secure further funding for another new role within the business. 

The process also identified new collaboration opportunities which have helped us capitalise on our growth ambitions. Through Skills for Growth, we were introduced to Interface – a knowledge exchange partnership – which has enabled us to embark on a research project with a Scottish University and is a positive development for our business.   

The process also helped to draw attention to the incredibly positive and inclusive workforce at Gaeltel; our people are key to driving forward our vision of ‘ethically clean energy.’ Since going through Skills for Growth, we have implemented twice weekly meetings where staff participation is welcome and valued. This encourages the sharing of experiences and knowledge which in turn creates good team spirit and staff feel involved and aware of: What we do – goals and objectives, How we do it – the actions needed to realise these goals and Why we do it – the organisation's values, mission, and vision. 

Outside of what Skills for Growth can do for our business, it’s also opened doors for us to share our expertise and help influence the development of industry-led qualifications. SDS have been undertaking research looking at how sustainability and green competencies can be incorporated into apprenticeships and we fed into this work – giving our perspective, as an employer. This is a great opportunity to help inform the development of qualifications which will be needed by the people coming to work in our industry in the future.  

Finally, Skills for Growth has also encouraged us to think about how we might use Modern Apprenticeships to develop new talent in the business – something we’re currently exploring in more detail. And as we look to the future, we know how critical people and skills are in taking advantage of market opportunities. Skills for Growth has brought this into focus and given us the practical tools we need to get the best from our people. 

If you have less than 250 employees, find out how Skills for Growth could benefit your business.