Water utility Pennon to double apprentices scheme, inflation still looms large

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 Water utility Pennon to double apprentices scheme, inflation still looms large
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(Reuters) - British water company Pennon Group plans to double its apprenticeship and graduate schemes to 1,000 spots and offer another 5,000 work placement opportunities to school students by 2030, it said on Wednesday, when it also reported a slump in profit.


The move comes as Britain's tight labour market is driving employers to think up new hiring strategies amid a tightening cost-of-living squeeze on people as prices of everything from energy to food are soaring due to supply chain pressures and the Ukraine war, which is eating into corporate profits.

Pennon's plans would be "supporting those in our region to live local and prosper," Chief Executive Susan Davy said in a statement.

Pennon could not be immediately reached for further details on the jobs plan, including the nature of work expected from apprentices and other recruits.

Last week, bike and motor parts retailer Halfords said it was aiming to recruit 1,000 new technicians over the next 12 months by attracting retirees to work in its car repair centres.

Pennon also said higher costs led to a 75.1% fall in its underlying pretax profit to 22.5 million pounds ($27 million) for the first half.

Pennon expects the pressures to continue, and said it was cutting its exposure to index-linked debt to reduce volatility on interest costs.

It also announced an additional 45 million pounds of investments to repurpose ex-quarries and mines and introduce de-salination units as it seeks to improve its environmental impact and sustain its business.

The company's shares were down 3.3% at 908 pence. ($1 = 0.8350 pounds)

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)

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