Similarly, those with a management or commercial background within the energy and utility sectors will be required to oversee the development of upcoming wind energy projects and the commercialisation of cutting-edge technologies.

While our long term goal should be to develop new skills that service our weakest areas, particularly technological development and turbine manufacturing, right now we must focus on wind energy roles that are already within our reach, and through this, build stable jobs that bring the longest term benefit.

Today it is undoubtedly the Offshore wind sector’s ‘support’ industries that meet these demands most keenly, especially turbine installation, logistics, consultancy, operations and maintenance. With Round 3 about to kick off, this sector above all is showing the strongest growth potential. For example, in only a decade there will be twenty gigawatts of installed wind power, and half of this will be generated by offshore wind. This equates to five times the capacity that there is today.

The potential therefore is clearly huge and the sheer scale of offshore wind will provide many UK based employment opportunities for decades to come. The real challenge now is not so much how to generate jobs, it is finding the right skills to fill these roles, and the oil and gas sector must be the place to look.

The oil and gas sector contains many relevant, transferable skills built up over four decades. We are already world leaders at installing and maintaining deep water structures, from laying sub-sea cables and maintaining oil rigs to servicing underwater structures and constructing platforms. Many of these skills are already highly relevant to the offshore wind sector.

The next step is to encourage ‘cross-skilling’ through apprenticeship schemes, training programmes and other employment incentives. Wind energy companies must also be willing to recognise the value of transferable skills, and invest in their own training schemes. REpower UK and a number of other manufacturers have already launched an ambitious apprenticeship scheme with Carnegie College, but more needs to be done.

Round 3 will undoubtedly provide huge scope for employment and our Oil & Gas industry is a hot bed of skills. However we cannot afford to be complacent. We must act quickly to source the right people or we risk losing jobs to foreign workforces. This involves raising awareness of the opportunities and providing the right incentives and training schemes to encourage cross skilling. The saying ‘Carpe Diem’ seems appropriate – let’s hope the UK can seize its opportunity and become a world leader in wind energy generation.


—- Rick Eggleston, Managing Director of REpowerUK