It’s an exciting time for the UK’s offshore wind industry, which is perhaps a surprising statement given Brexit and all of its uncertainties
As the long-awaited sector deal has reached an agreement and 27,000 new skilled jobs are promised in the sector by 2032, there’s no doubt that the wind industry is central to the government’s energy and industrial strategy.
Here in the North East, Newcastle College’s Energy Academy is ideally placed to play a central role in creating a pipeline of talent for the offshore wind industry. Ensuring there are skilled workers to fill those promised roles is critical to fuelling and supporting the industry’s continued growth.
While there are a number of training organisations able to provide the necessary certifications to work in the industry, the Energy Academy is focused on training and qualifications which provide the right level of technical knowledge and practical skills to produce capable, work-ready engineers and technicians.
Exciting industry growth
Established in 2012, the Energy Academy is located in the heart of Tyneside’s offshore renewable and subsea engineering cluster. Since we opened our doors, we’ve seen the offshore wind sector ebb and flow over the past 12 months and as we look toward the future, we have sensed the exciting growth within the industry. In response, we have invested in developing our employer-led education and skills training at the Academy and by working in partnership with employers, we are able to offer a broad and unique package of offshore energy and engineering focused qualifications.
These range from entry level engineering courses, to a Level 3 Diploma in Engineering for Subsea and Renewable Energy and a recently launched Maintenance & Operations Engineering Technician apprenticeship. Through our highly vocational Newcastle College University Centre, we deliver a number of Foundation Degrees, including Renewable Energy Technologies and Subsea and Offshore Engineering, through to an Honours Degree in Engineering Management.
Re-skill and cross-skill
We are also developing an education and training provision to reskill and cross-skill those from other industries, for example providing tailored offshore qualifications for ex-services engineers and technicians, enabling them to map their existing technical capabilities across to offshore wind equipment and machinery.
In recent months, we’ve opened our Immersive Hybrid Reality Training Offshore Wind Turbine Training Facility supported by the ORE Catapult, which gives our students and trainees virtual access to a full scale 7.5MW offshore wind turbine.
We’ve also entered into a ground-breaking partnership with Port of Blyth, working together to deliver offshore wind related technical education and apprenticeships at the port for the benefit of its wind sector clients and young people in Northumberland.
Additionally, the Energy Academy is well placed to utilise Newcastle College’s access to North East schools, to educate and enlighten young people about the exciting prospects in offshore wind and create a link between future talent in our schools and offshore wind employers.
At a time when the engineering sector as a whole is facing a shortage of skilled graduates and technicians, our challenge is to continue to provide innovative solutions to finding and developing the right future talent for the industry.
We are very proud to be able to play a key role in that challenge and support the future of the UK’s offshore and wind sector.
Director of Business Partnerships
Newcastle College Energy Academy