Skilled engineers are a national resource for UK renewables sector

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 23 Mar 2010 16:04
Wind industry needs support of skilled engineers

The answer to the skills shortage in the off-shore wind energy business is for engineers to transfer from other sectors into the renewables industry, according to one of the UK’s leading specialist recruitment consultancies.

Gary Hewett, Managing Director of ATA Energy, which specialises in wind energy recruitment, said skilled engineers working in other sectors should not be overlooked as a national resource.

“Engineers with experience of high power generators and engines, complex drives and transmission systems or high voltage grid connection are in demand. For example, whether an engineer is working on a wind turbine, a major piece of factory equipment or a complex power system in the transport sector, the basics are the same.

“It is simply a question of applying the engineering knowledge to the particular task in hand.

“The Government has acknowledged that the off-shore wind industry in particular could become a £75 billion industry by 2020 and support up to 70,000 clean energy jobs.

“We cannot simply stand back and wait for a new generation of university graduates and apprentices to emerge – we must make use of our existing skills base and the talents of experienced engineers.

“Engineers who are already working in electrical power transmission, with heavy machinery and at heights are ideally placed to bring their skills into the off-shore wind industry and help Britain maintain its world lead in the sector.”

He spoke after Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney warned that although the UK currently leads the world in offshore wind deployment “a huge expansion of our offshore wind industry” is required for the UK to meet its renewable energy ambitions.

Mr Kidney told industry professionals at the Wave and Tidal Conference of Renewable UK (formerly the British Wind Energy Association): “The UK’s low carbon transition won’t add up to much if we don’t invest in our workforce.

“We have an ageing workforce and a depleting pool of young people in training. In order to remain competitive globally, British businesses will need ever more skilled employees.”

The Government’s ambition is to cut carbon emissions across the country by one-third in the next 10 years and by 80 per cent by 2050. The transition to a low carbon economy was likened by Mr Kidney to “a second Industrial revolution”.

Mr Hewett said: “It was refreshing to hear the Government accept that offshore wind power has an enormous part to play in combating climate change in the UK.

“We are anticipating a boom in recruitment to this sector, with an increase in demand already happening across Europe. There has never been a better time for skilled engineers to consider transferring across to this green 21st century industry.

“The UK is set to become the largest area in the world for off-shore wind turbines as the Government has recently announced rights for companies tobuild a potential 32 Gigawatts of offshore capacity.

“All of these future installations will require skilled engineers, both to put them into place, and also to maintain them. There are huge opportunities ahead for those who want to take them.”

ATA Energy is part of the fast-expanding RTC Group Plc and specialises in serving the rail, energy, defence aerospace and construction industries.

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