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Offshore wind industry announces targets to employ 3,000 apprentices and a more diverse workforce

04 March 2020  
Posted by: Rob Norris
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Offshore Wind Industry Council media release – Wednesday 4th March 2020

Offshore wind industry announces targets to employ 3,000 new apprentices and create a more diverse workforce on first anniversary of Sector Deal 

The Offshore Wind Industry Council has unveiled plans for the industry to create job opportunities for thousands of new apprentices and recruit more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees by 2030.

The industry is pledging today to employ at least 3,000 apprentices between now and the end of the decade. They will work in a wide variety of jobs from turbine technicians and maintenance engineers to roles in management and finance. 

The sector also aims to lead the energy sector in BAME representation, setting a target of 9% of workforce made up of people from BAME groups and a stretch target of 12% by 2030. This compares to current BAME representation of 5% in the workforce of the energy sector overall. 

The new apprentice and diversity targets will be announced at an event in the Houses of Parliament later today attended by the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng.

Mr Kwarteng said: “The great success of offshore wind in the UK shows what can happen when government and industry work hand-in-hand. One year on from the sector deal, and in this Year of Climate Action, it’s great to see these new targets for minority ethnic workers and apprentices to make sure the opportunities provided by new green industries are shared far and wide.”

At the same event, the support given by offshore wind companies to the Armed Forces Covenant will be highlighted – this commits them to supporting former military personnel who have transferable skills to work in the sector.

The announcements come on the first anniversary of the landmark Offshore Wind Sector Deal, agreed by the industry and Government, to ensure that the rapid expansion of the UK’s world-leading offshore wind sector continues in the decades ahead. Last year, the Government committed to at least 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installed by 2030 (up from 8.5GW currently), which will provide more than one-third of the UK’s electricity. This would enable the offshore wind industry to deliver £48 billion of investment in UK infrastructure, and employ 27,000 people by the end of the decade. Since then, the Government has raised its ambition to 40GW, recognising the pivotal role this technology will play in decarbonising the UKs electricity system.

During the first year of the Sector Deal, the industry has announced initiatives to bring more UK supply chain companies into the industry, expand its highly skilled workforce, build up centres of expertise in coastal communities and develop cutting-edge technology (see Notes below for more details).

The Industry Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and Vice President UK Offshore at Ørsted, Benj Sykes, said:

“In the first year of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal we’ve made great progress on delivering our actions, with a host of new initiatives announced throughout the last twelve months to boost jobs, develop innovative new technology and increase the number of UK companies joining the offshore wind supply chain.  

“We’re building the clean energy system of the future which will keep British homes, offices and factories powered up at the lowest cost in the decades ahead, attracting billions in investment and creating export opportunities for UK companies worldwide. And we’re playing a central role in helping the Government to reach net zero emissions as fast as possible”.

The Sector Deal work on people and skills is being led by the Investment in Talent Group, set up as a result of the Sector Deal to increase the number of skilled people working in the sector and to promote diversity. As well as lead on implementing these new targets, the Investment in Talent Group will also help the industry achieve its aim to double the proportion of women working in offshore wind to one-third by 2030.

The Group is overseen by RenewableUK’s CEO Hugh McNeal, who said: “Offshore wind needs the most talented people from every part of society to fill the thousands of highly-skilled jobs we’re creating around the UK as a key part of the Sector Deal, especially in coastal communities, where economic regeneration is needed most”.

(ends)

For further information, please contact:

Robert Norris, Head of Communications, RenewableUK, 0207 901 3013 or 07969 229 913 Robert.Norris@RenewableUK.com

Notes:

1.    The Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), a senior Government and industry forum, was established in 2013 to drive the development of the world-leading offshore wind sector in the UK.

2.    More details on the Offshore Wind Sector Deal are available here.

As a result of the Sector Deal, the industry is investing up to £100m in the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP), a programme run by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult which is helping UK supply chain companies seeking to grow their business in the rapidly growing global offshore wind market.
The OWGP’s first funding call saw 7 UK companies from industries including manufacturing and robotics secure £364,000 in grant funding from the OWGP in January. Overall the programme is expected to support over 650 UK companies to access the domestic offshore wind market by 2030, as well as creating further opportunities to enter a global market. It is anticipated the annual value of UK offshore wind exports could grow five-fold by the end of the next decade to £2.6bn.
 The OWGP has also completed an in-depth analysis of the offshore wind foundations sector, assessing current and projected industry requirements for turbine foundations in the UK and abroad, identifying potential barriers to growth and making recommendations to overcome these challenges. This activity is the first in a series of studies by the OWGP into various parts of the offshore wind supply chain.
60% of the lifetime content of offshore wind farms will be delivered by UK companies by 2030, up from 48% currently.

Eight regional offshore wind Clusters are being developed: Deep Wind (North Scotland), Forth & Tay Offshore, North East England, Humber, East Anglia, Solent, Celtic Sea Cluster, and North West & North Wales. These are collaborations between offshore wind developers and the regional supply chain, public sector and educational bodies, aiming to increase the industry’s productivity, competitiveness and innovation, while helping to grow coastal economies. 

The industry has set up a task force, the Investment in Talent Group, to increase the number of skilled people working in the sector and to promote diversity, overseen by RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal. The industry is aiming to double the proportion of women working in offshore wind. to one-third by 2030.
Apprentices will form 2.5% of the total workforce. The number of apprentices is based on current predicted expansion from 11,000 jobs in 2020 to 27,000 by 2030. 

The sector has established an Offshore Wind Innovation Group with industry, academic and public sector representatives, to establish a programme of innovation support. This will target UK IP and job creation, and a reduction in offshore wind farm lifecycle costs, focussing initially on improvements in Smart and Sustainable Operations & Maintenance.   

A major research programme, Solving the Integration Challenge, is underway to ensure that the UK’s low-carbon energy system makes the best use of the increasingly large proportion of electricity we are generating from renewable sources, including offshore wind.  It is led by Baroness Brown of Cambridge, the industry’s Offshore Wind Sector Champion, and includes senior representatives from Government, National Grid and companies involved in the sector.  The group will publish a road map identifying pioneering techniques, such as using electricity from offshore wind to generate and store hydrogen as a power source. It will also examine how to introduce more flexibility into our energy system, for example by expanding battery storage and the use of demand side response (which enables consumers to take advantage of low electricity prices at certain times of day).

Government and the sector are also working together to identify timely actions to address strategic deployments issues such as consenting and licencing, radar mitigation and grid transmission issues.

           BEIS has published a summary of progress which is available here.  


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