Analysis: How sector is taking practical steps to train new specialists

THERE’S an urgent need to address the shortage of skilled workers in the renewable energy industry.

At the moment 10,600 people work in wind and marine renewables in the UK. Our recent report, Working for a Green Britain, shows that by 2021, nearly 90,000 people will be employed in these industries.

We need to ensure that we can fill those gaps with people of the right calibre. Our report shows the enormous potential which exists within renewable energy industries to provide permanent, well-paid jobs for the engineers, scientists, technicians and economists of the future.

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The shortage of high quality training courses, institutions and tutors is acting as a constraint to growth for companies in this rapidly developing sector. There’s a lack of opportunities for mature skilled entrants to re-train, and a shortage of courses which are specifically tailored to the needs of the industries.

That’s why Renewable UK, Britain’s largest wind, wave and tidal energy trade association, has set up a new organisation, the Renewables Training Network (RTN). Two-thousand new training places will be created by the network over the next two years. By investing in training, businesses will attract a diverse pool of new recruits from many related sectors, such as the oil and gas industries. The RTN will open new avenues for fast-tracking the transformation of generalists into experts.

To fund the £1.2 million project, businesses in the renewables sector have pledged the equivalent of £600,000 of support. The government has matched this by awarding £580,000 from the Growth and Innovation Fund.

Working closely with the National Skills Academy for Power, our partners in this project, we are taking practical steps to bridge that skills gap by ensuring that cost effective, high- quality training opportunities are created. We trust that our vision of tens of thousands of green collar jobs will come to fruition in the decade ahead, thanks in part to initiatives such as this.

• Robert Norris is head of communications, RenewableUK