Meeting today in Liverpool at BWEA31, the wind industrys annual conference, key business leaders from the UK power sector, alongside leading figures from government and academia, signed up to a new sector training and skills route map with the aim of training up to 60,000 new technicians and engineers.
The BWEA Skills Summit oversaw the signing of the Wind & Renewables Skills Sector Accord, having brought together heavyweight figures such as RWE Npower Renewables UK MD, Paul Cowling, the UK Divisional Managing Director of industrial giant Siemens, Chris Ehlers, as well as the Governments Apprenticeship Ambassador Mark Andrews. Chaired by former minister and Labour Party General Secretary Rt. Hon Lord Whitty, the session also heard a video address by Kevin Brennan MP, the Skills Minister.
Opening the summit, BWEA Chief Executive Maria McCaffery MBE said:
The task ahead of our sector is enormous, as are the opportunities. If just half the manufacturing for the next generation of offshore wind farms takes place here in the UK then this industry will grow 10-fold from just 6,000 jobs today to 60,000 by 2020."
She added But in order to attract the investment and build that industry we need to have a skilled workforce ready to work in the sector. However, today we are already suffering from a growing shortage of qualified technicians and professional engineers.
The Summit aimed to secure a commitment to the development of a new National Renewable energy Apprenticeship Programme and ensure that high quality advice on entry routes and career pathways becomes widespread.
Summit Chair Lord Whitty said:
There have been real barriers to the rapid deployment of wind power and the skills shortage has been one of them. Todays skills summit demonstrated the determination of the industry and educational bodies to address this shortage by bringing in an apprenticeship scheme as soon as possible. There is a real commitment to resolve the situation from all parties.
This week the capacity of operational wind farms will reach a record 4GW of installed capacity, and recent research shows that by 2020 up to 60,000 jobs could be created in the wind and Marine Energy industries. However, the sector could face a shortage of skilled and trained workers, following the recent trend of falling numbers of engineering graduates.
Commenting on the commitment from industry, stakeholders and the Government shown by the signing of the Skills Accord, McCaffery said:
If we can get this right, we can create thousands of green collar jobs for the UK, and wind and renewables will power the green economy for a generation to come.