One year ago the UK Government and the offshore wind industry published the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. It set out a plan to install at least 30GW of fossil free offshore wind generation by 2030. As part of the one year anniversary targets to employ 3,000 new apprentices in a wide variety of jobs and create a more diverse workforce have been announced.
Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, if consented and constructed, aim to bring two of the world’s largest wind farms to the east of England. The projects showcase co-ordinated, innovative and environmentally sensitive development. This kind of progress is one of the reasons why the price of offshore wind has come down so much in the last few years and why the UK is world leading in offshore wind. However, when we look at the current offshore wind pipeline in the UK it is clear that there is a significant skills gap. This is one of the things the Offshore Wind Sector Deal aims to address. Jobs in the offshore wind industry are expected to grow from 7200 to 27,000 by 2030. Those skilled individuals need to come from somewhere and Vattenfall has started to focus on this early. We want the UK to be prepared for the future energy system.
Susan Falch-Lovesey, Skills Champion for Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas has been working with partners in the region to develop an innovative skills programme. Fourteen schools and colleges in the east of England have been part of the wind farm development programme using 3D Virtual Reality, in partnership with 3DWebtech and University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN). This has been delivered to 454 students 6th formers and undergraduates - by 28 peer mentors (over 21 sessions. Using project data, collected by the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas teams, the students have experienced designing projects, developing leadership and taking responsibility to deliver their programme. Experiences like this have a huge impact on their confidence, self-esteem and future.
At primary level we have developed a green energy programme in partnership with Colby Primary, who have worked in turn with seven other primary schools across Norfolk. It is our hope that there will be more. 12 peer mentors (Colby Primary School pupils) and 113 pupils have already benefited - taking the lead and gaining confidence at a young age. Other educational establishments locally can see what is happening and want to get involved. We are excited to see that we can have such a big impact, forging partnerships that would not have ordinarily happened.
Our focus is very much on developing business skills as the foundation for future success. Feedback from the young people themselves tells us that what motivates them is the real life context of the programmes, alongside the emphasis on innovation. We are continuously evaluating our work in order to improve quickly. We hope to continue attracting partners to grow our skills programme if the project is consented and constructed.
Our ambition doesn’t end with young people, Vattenfall recently signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. More than 6% of our workforce has an armed forces background with the transferable skills the industry needs.
We need a skilled workforce locally and nationally but developing an inspired workforce should be our ultimate aim. Different brains, backgrounds and perspectives bring wide ranging experience. It is not always easy to get individuals valuing one another for their differences and this emotional intelligence is best introduced early. After all, our diverse workforce is key to enable fossil free living within one generation.