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Tuesday, 12 November 2013 23:00

Institute launch puts Wales one step further to low carbon energy security

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ESF-smallThe first Institute of its kind dedicated to sourcing and training Wales’ low carbon energy sector workforces of the future will launch today (Wednesday 13 November), in Cardiff.

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates is formally launching the Low Carbon Energy and Marine Power Institute at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre. 

The Institute is established by Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills) – the Sector Skills Council for the water, waste management, power, gas and renewables industries - and the National Skills Academy for Power. It aims to boost the Welsh economy by upskilling the current and future workforce of the low carbon energy sector in Wales, where energy generation could grow by 200 per cent by 2023. In helping to establish an infrastructure for the sector, it will also play a vital role in developing workforce skills and plugging an opening UK-wide recruitment gap that could see 208,000 vacancies open in the sector by 2025. 

A pilot from Welsh Government, funded through its Sector Priorities Fund (SPF) and with support from the European Social Fund, the Institute is starting life as a ‘virtual’ establishment, operating across universities, colleges and training providers in Wales. Initially, the Low Carbon Energy and Marine Power Institute will support 100 participants on pilot programmes.

The Deputy Minister said: “If Wales is to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by renewable energy, then we have to make sure our workforce has the relevant skills and experience. We know there is a skills gap in the renewables sector and that’s why it’s so important we invest in training that aligns with the needs of both employers and learners.

“That’s why I’m delighted the new Institute will be a model of partnership working between the sector and learning and training providers across Wales. This represents a real investment in both the future of our workforce and the future of sustainable energy in Wales.”

A recent report by EU Skills and RenewableUK, ‘Working for a Green Britain and Northern Ireland 2013-2023’, revealed 18,500 people in the UK are directly employed in the renewable energy sector, with a further 16,000 people in related positions. But projected growth in wind and marine energy generation would leave it unable to source the future workforce from homegrown talent in Wales. 

So far, to help tackle this issue, the Institute has developed two new training programmes and five new qualification units and has 24 providers going through the approvals process, to operate under its banner. 

EU Skills Chief Executive Neil Robertson said: “Use and generation of energy is changing – the UK is preparing itself to meet Government targets that call for delivery of 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. A significant part of this will be wind and marine power, which is growing at such a rate that by 2023, the UK could require as many as 70,000 people to fill jobs directly in, and related to, the sector.

“This Institute is aiming to stop the problem worsening in Wales, ensuring that it has the numbers or people with sufficient skills and experience to provide what the sector needs in the next 10 years. Without proper training and education, we risk our ability to hit Government targets, meet demand for energy supply and develop a sustainable sector that relies on homegrown talent.”

The project has been underpinned by research from EU Skills and the Skills Academy for Power, carried out by Miller Research, which highlighted a potential increase in low carbon energy generation from 9GW, to around 28GW. In the wake of this, it exposed workforce planning issues and potential market failures within the sector’s training provision infrastructure in Wales, as the sector struggles to meet demand.

Long term, the Institute aims to become a centre of excellence that develops workforce skills in the installation, commissioning and operation of energy generation sites, such as wind farms and tidal power generation sources. Vital skills in the distribution of energy to customers will also be a key focus, with the overall task being to help the sector meet its current and future skills needs. 

For more information on the Low Carbon Energy and Marine Power Institute, visit http://www.euskills.co.uk/about-us/welsh-spf-project/

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