EEEGR helping build the energy sector workforce of the future with Norwich skills event
Developing partnerships with local schools is becoming ever more important to energy companies as construction projects off the East Anglian coast gather pace.
This was the view expressed by two industry giants at an event designed for forge links between students, energy businesses and teachers in Norwich.
Dong Energy, ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall are the latest renewable energy companies to seize opportunities and space in Norfolk for offshore wind developments, which could generate enough power for hundreds of thousands of homes.
With many firms pledging to make use of local skills and supply chains, these gargantuan projects will require hundreds of skilled workers through the construction phase and beyond.
At the Skills for Energy event – organised by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) – nearly 30 companies and organisations had the chance to meet almost 400 students and introduce them to opportunities in offshore wind, oil and gas, nuclear and the sector’s expanding supply chain.
The event at the International Aviation Academy in Norwich came a week after the government announced that 2018 will be the Year of Engineering, to encourage more students to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses.
Gemma Head, SfE programme manager at EEEGR, said: “The students come from a variety of education providers and are targeted so businesses have the best initial interest in the sector or engineering.
“We are looking at the energy industry as a whole and within that there is a wide variety of positions from HR to logistics.
“There is always development happening and there will always be future development, so when we are talking to the workforce of the future we have to keep pushing the opportunities that are right here on their doorstep.
“For big companies coming through the region, it is important that the schools and colleges are aware so they can continue to put those opportunities to their students.”
Susan Falch-Lovesey, local liaison adviser for Vattenfall, which is behind the proposed Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas developments, said: “It was the first event I have been to which is specifically for young people and I think that is valuable. They need a lot of different opportunities.”
Demand for skills
Maurice Mcginnes, manufacturing manager at Proserv, said the Norfolk talent pipeline would be “extremely important” for the company’s future.
The firm, which is in the process of centralising its subsea and topside operations to a new base in Beacon Park, Gorleston, works with schools including East Coast College.
Mr Mcginnes said events like Skills for Energy helped the company recruit young talent, but he was “disappointed” the majority of applicants were still male. “Oil and gas is not gender specific, it is about talent,” he said.
Susan Falch-Lovesey from Vattenfall said the company hopes to use the local supply chain for at least 50% of the work to build its proposed Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas offshore wind farms.
“Teachers need to see that young people’s skills, jobs and career are important for our area. We have worked with eight schools and colleges in our project area as we want our workforce to come from Norfolk,” she said.