Brandon Lewis MP and over 60 people from the Offshore Energy Sector have launched the brand new Offshore Wind Skills Centre based at East Coast College, Great Yarmouth Campus.
The East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre is a collaborative regional training and competence facility that will provide support to local people wishing to reskill and gain sustainable employment in the offshore wind industry on the New Anglia Energy Coast.
Graham Hacon the CEO of 3sun Group opened the event with a presentation and overview of the initiative for which 3sun has been a key delivery partner. He explained the concept of the Offshore Wind Skills Energy Centre, promoted the benefits to employers and importantly promoted the sponsorship opportunities that are available. Ferlin Quantrill, Commercial Development Manager at East Coast College, explained the detail of the courses and how they are tailored to the needs of employers – particularly in relation to selecting appropriate candidates and employability skills training.
There are currently two main offers at the centre: A 12 week full-time Level 2 Diploma in Safe Working Practice in the Wind Turbine Industry. Or the 3-4 week Transition to Offshore course for engineers and technicians who are already working in closely aligned industries.
Paul Winter, Chair of NALEP’s (New Anglian Local Enterprise Partnership) Skills Board highlighted how Norfolk and Suffolk have some of the biggest wind farms Nationally and how this Centre in Great Yarmouth is perfectly placed to serve the local offshore sector which is still growing.
Dan McKinley, East Anglia ONE – HESQC Manager, from ScottishPower Renewables explained why they had invested as a training partner. The key being that the initiative is employability led by East Anglia based employers and educators. “We can build strong relationships across the industry creating responsive and demand led training whilst developing industry knowledge of companies’ workforce requirements. I look at your situation and I can see what you have in front of you from all of the great work that the guys here have done, the facilities that are coming together and what is planned for the future, it’s a really exciting time. What a fantastic time to be in this area and in this industry!”
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth concluded the presentations “There is a huge opportunity here for us, as there are so many job opportunities in this particular sector and it’s our job to make sure our candidates have the right skills to satisfy the industry as it grows in the years ahead. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in pulling this project together. It will play a huge role in the region ensuring we send candidates off, employment ready, with the right skills to branch out into this growing sector.
Two recent graduates from the first Transition course run in the Summer also attended the event and received their certificates. Ricki Western and Jack Hurren joined the Transition Course with engineering skills but no employment at that point. Ricki was employed by 3sun after the course and starts his career with them in January.
Ricki said “It’s been a great opportunity for me to climb the ladder, anyone that completes this course has a fantastic future.”
Jack, who recently completed a degree before going on to the Transition Course, is still on the hunt for an offshore job. Jack said “This course is exactly what you need to get into the industry both for newcomers and experienced workers. You can’t just turn up and expect to be employed, you have to be committed, listen and work hard as it’s very demanding. It’s all worth it in the end and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I am positive I will find a new position in the New Year.”
Vicky Beck, Director of Business Development at East Coast College said “The project provides the perfect opportunity for adults to retrain into a thriving and growing local industry. These courses are at the forefront of skills development building on the College’s strong links with the sector ensure that we are keeping up with industry developments and meeting their skills needs both now and in the future.”
Simon Gray CEO of EEEGR said “It’s really exciting to be here today for the launch of the new skills centre. About 50% of the total install capacity of offshore wind in the uk is here of the East Coast of England so it’s absolutely vital we have the workers and the skill in the workforce in this region to be able to offer the operations and the maintenance that will be required on these turbines. By 2030 we are looking in the region of 5 hundred million pounds per year will be spent in operations and maintenance. That’s the size of the prize that’s available for our region and we need to capitalise upon it. This initiative here will allow us to do that, so this is great news.”
The project has been funded by the NALEP Skill Deal with support from the following key partners and training providers:
East Coast College, 3sun Group, Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limted, Scottish Power Renewables, EEEGR, Skills For energy East of England, Job Centre Plus, Baker Hughes, CWIND Training, Petans
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