Government funding announced to help plug energy and utility skills gap

Posted: Thursday 26th September 2013

An employer-led partnership set up to secure the future workforce of the UK’s energy and utility industries has been given the green light, thanks to Government funding announced recently.

The Energy and Efficiency IndustrialPartnership will fill an emerging training and skills void in the gas, water, renewables, waste management and power industries, which is currently stunting growth and hampering recruitment of new talent.

It receives the funding as part of the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills (EOS) pilot and is supported by Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills), Capita Talent Partnerships and Asset Skills, and driven by National Grid - among 67 employers from across the sector. Collectively, they will match the Government’s input with an additional contribution, channelled into addressing an ageing workforce, a lack of future-proof skills and youth unemployment.

Expected to deliver around 70,000 learning opportunities, through apprenticeships and traineeships, the Partnership will create more entry routes to jobs, support training and ensure the industry has the right quality, quantity and diversity of new recruits. It will give employers control over the make-up and content of training and employees a clearer view of what training is available, with more flexibility in the ways they choose to develop their skills.

Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership chair and National Grid Chief Executive Steve Holliday, said: “This investment will play a vital role in supporting the future of our energy and utilities industries and marks a watershed in terms of the Government’s recognition of them as priority sectors. As well as positively impacting the UK economy, the Partnership will develop an industry-wide view on growth, innovation and sustainability, which will help ensure the future of the UK's utilities.

“I would like to thank all of those employers and partners involved that have made this Partnership happen.”

An estimated 50 per cent of current employees will have left the sector by 2023, due to its ageing workforce. To plug that gap, 208,000 new people will be required within 10 years and the Partnership plans to put long-term solutions in place to reverse this trend.

Neil Robertson, Chief Executive of EU Skills, which delivers products and training to its members in the sector to improve skills standards, said: “We welcome the Government funding as a cornerstone of this initiative. In turn, it will create jobs, boost sector competency and help the UK meet its energy and carbon commitments by readying workforces to meet the demand for new and innovative power and energy solutions.

“Not only that, it will contribute to local communities and foster talent in science, technology, engineering and maths from school age, building a more sustainable, secure economy for the future.”

As well as positively impacting the UK economy, the Partnership will become a forum for strategic discussions on current and future energy skills challenges, contributing to the delivery of a low carbon economy that will ensure the security of UK utilities. It will develop an industry-wide view on growth innovation and sustainability, as well as game-changing, sustainable ways of improving skills that ultimately drive productivity and growth. Through pioneering training development, delivery and assessment, the Partnership aims to yield the skills the sector so desperately needs.

Capita, which provides business process management and professional support services, will act as the Partnership’s programme manager. Matt Hamnett, Managing Director of Capita Talent Partnerships, said: “We are really excited about this opportunity to work with employers across the energy and efficiency sectors to transform the way in which they work with Government, to invest in young talent. We have a huge opportunity here to develop new models and ways of working that will make it easier for employers to do more.

“To get to the bottom of the growing skillscrisis we are facing, we will be working closely with sector employers to shape the kind of training that utilises funding in the best way, offering value for money to the UK tax payer and the companies that have contributed.”

Dave Newborough, Chair of the National Skills Academy for Power - part of the delivery infrastructure - and E.On UK HR Director, added: “The Partnership is a phenomenal catalyst for the power sector - never before has it been able to take complete ownership of the skills agenda, to enable longer-term sustainable growth in relation to skills and training. Its work builds on the existing, ambitious collaboration achieved through the National Skills Academy for Power.”

The Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership answers a Government call for employers to take part in its Employer Ownership of Skills pilot, offering public investment to design and deliver training solutions, with the aim of improving the skills of their current and future workforces. Those successful with their funding bids made the case for how their investment will guarantee development of workforces. In return, the scheme offers them greater flexibility in how the publicly funded training is created and delivered.

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