Renewables sector to benefit from £1.2m training initiative

Posted on 6 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Trade association RenewableUK has created a new organisation, the Renewables Training Network, which will address critical skills shortages within the renewable energy industry.

Businesses in this sector have pledged the equivalent of £600,000 of support for the £1.2m project. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) has matched this by awarding £580,000 from the Growth and Innovation Fund to the new body.

RenewableUK is determined to resolve the skills gaps affecting the industry. The wind and marine energy will support 88,300 UK jobs by 2021, up from 10,600 today, provided the right policies and financial conditions are in place, and sufficient skilled recruits can be found.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “It’s great news that we’ve had widespread support to create an initiative to address the training gap. The renewable energy industry is one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, and this initiative is essential to ensure that growth can continue and that people from a diverse set of backgrounds can make the most of the enormous job opportunities.”

The shortage of high quality, industry-specific training institutions, courses and tutors is acting as a constraint to growth for companies in this rapidly developing sector. There’s a lack of opportunities for mature skilled entrants to re-train. Two thousand new transition training places will be delivered by the RTN over the next two years.

By jointly investing in training, businesses will attract a diverse pool of trainees and provide them with access to up-skilling and employment. The RTN will open new avenues for fast tracking the transformation of generalists into experts.

Christian T. Skakkebæk, DONG Energy UK’s senior vice president of renewables, said: “The UK is marching forward with a significant programme of new wind farms and we need to make sure the skills base grows with that. As one of the largest wind operators and developers in the UK, it’s very important for us to invest in initiatives like the RTN. We will be actively involved in helping develop the organisation and the training programme together with the other partners”.

Alstom’s UK country president Steve Burgin also commented: ‘The development of the UK renewables sector, and in particular the offshore market, is fundamental in driving carbon reduction, security of supply and economic growth. Timely investment in renewables skills development ahead of the anticipated demand surge in the coming years is therefore essential to ensure that the sector can deliver efficiently, affordably and safely”.