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New UK college supports wind energy education

National College for Wind Energy aims to tackle skills gap and create jobs.

RenewableUK and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership welcomed the announcement by the Business Secretary, Rt Hon Vince Cable, of the development of a National College for Wind Energy. It will be the first National College dedicated to renewable energy in the UK.

The National College, to be based in the Humber area, will provide a ‘hub’ for skills, training and education initiatives. In addition, there will be a network of partners providing education and training across the UK. The primary focus of the Humber ‘hub’ will be offshore wind, where a large growth in skills is needed. The National College will also provide capability to support onshore wind and marine renewables.

The launch of the college is the result of a proposal to Government led by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and RenewableUK; the project is key to capitalising on the enormous potential that offshore wind plays in the Humber region and elsewhere in the UK.

"Helping young people acquire advanced technical skills for the industries of the future is vitally important,” said Skills Minister Nick Boles. “Through the College, Government and industry are investing in the people who will create local jobs and prosperity for the region. By arming people with the skills they need to be energy specialists, we can provide career opportunities for thousands of young Britons, boost the competitiveness of British firms and help the UK economy remain strong for the future.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffrey, agreed, adding: “This unique college will provide cutting-edge training for a generation of young people looking for a springboard into renewable energy. We need to ensure we maximise the extraordinary rise of green jobs in the UK; the growth in much-needed wind projects onshore and offshore has created a real demand for new skills and training as the sector goes from strength to strength. The college’s launch means we are one step closer to ensuring our global lead in offshore wind is reflected in home-grown skills as well”.

Benj Sykes, co-chair of Offshore Wind Industry Council and head of asset management at DONG Energy Wind Power, called the program a “great example of industry and government working in partnership with the Humber LEP to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills our industry needs. Initiatives such as this will ensure that thousands of young people, as well as experienced workers making the transition from other sectors, will find employment in the UK’s offshore wind industry in the years ahead”.

Wind Energy is a growing industry with employment is expected to increase thereby greater demand for professional engineers, technicians, and a multitude of other roles, across the UK. Significant investment is needed to develop these skills to ensure the sector is able to meet its requirements. Recent research[1] provides evidence that employers are already experiencing skills gaps across wind and marine energy technologies, with 37% experiencing hard-to-fill vacancies. A National College for Wind Energy will provide the long-term strategic focus to address these shortages.

The college is expected to open its doors in late 2016, and will award new and mature students with professional qualifications and short courses (post A-level equivalent) in addition to bespoke programmes as directed and sponsored by employers.

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Policy, investment and markets  •  Wind power