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Wind farms didn’t blow in a blizzard of apprentices

Wind farm companies have taken on only a tiny handful of school leavers as modern apprentices.

The Sunday Post can reveal just 20 0 training scheme posts were created in turbine operations last year – despite claims the technology would create thousands of jobs and attract millions of pounds to the economy.

The figure represents less than 0.1% of the 26,427 modern apprenticeships delivered.

The disclosure follows a report that laid bare the relentless growth in the number of wind farms blighting the countryside.

It also comes at a time when the country is grappling with the highest level of youth unemployment for a generation.

Last night, critics called on the Scottish Government to come clean about just how many jobs the wind farm industry had created.

Tory finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: “The Scottish Government has to explain why this sector as a whole is providing such a low number of apprenticeships, particularly given the vast amount of public funding that goes in to it.

“We need to know what the SNP is doing to ensure the industry plays its part in helping young people to get the opportunities they need as part of this apprenticeships programme.”

The Scottish Government has long claimed that thousands of jobs will be supported by the drive towards green energy.

It says there are already 11,000 in the renewables sector and that a total of 130,000 could be created by the end of the decade.

However wind farm opponents claim the figures have been “plucked out of thin air”.

Consultant Stuart Young, of Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said: “These apprenticeship figures expose just how few jobs wind farms create. People are led to believe they are sustaining thousands of people in work but it’s a pack of lies.

“Manufacture and construction of turbines is largely carried out by foreign firms and their maintenance requires only a handful of people.

“The Scottish Government talks about 11,000 people working in renewables but nobody has a clue who or where they are.”

Last year wind farm developers in Scotland received £134 million in subsidies before even being paid for the power generated.

That money comes from ordinary families through their household bills.

Estimates suggest there may be as many as 2,700 turbines in Scotland with hundreds more planning applications in the pipeline.

The Scottish Government sees wind as a key contributor to its target of 100% of electricity coming from renewables by 2020.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, rsponded: “There are hundreds of apprentice engineers in different parts of the renewable energy sector working for companies such as steel engineering, Scottish Power Transmission, Global Energy and BiFab who are all expanding their businesses thanks to the millions of pounds of investment.

“Apprentice onshore wind turbine technicians make a small but important contribution to the overall number of apprentices.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “These figures do not contain all the relevant information about the number of apprenticeships attached to the renewables industry. There are thousands of MAs training across a wide range of roles within Scotland’s energy industry.”