offshore windfarm

Offshore wind sector calls for ‘dramatic surge’ of skilled workers

A “dramatic surge” of skilled workers will be required over the next seven years for the UK to meet the needs of its expanding offshore wind energy sector, a report has found.

According to the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), over 100,000 people will be needed by 2030 to maintain and run offshore wind infrastructure as installations ramp up.

The report said the industry will need to be able to attract and retain an average of 10,000 people per year. The UK’s existing offshore wind workforce has increased to over 32,000 – up 4 per cent compared to the end of 2021.

This includes over 17,000 direct jobs and nearly 15,000 indirect jobs. In the short-to-medium term, a rapid growth in jobs is needed as several offshore wind farms progress to the construction phase - 88,509 jobs are forecast to be required by 2026, the report said.

The government has set the industry a target of reaching 50GW of capacity by 2030, including 5GW of floating wind – up from 13.66GW today.

Two years ago, analysis by Energy Systems Catapult suggested that the UK electricity system could handle up to 150GW of offshore wind, provided essential technical integration and market reforms to the UK energy system are addressed.

Since then, the government has been urged to “transform” up to 11 ports around the UK in order to bolster the roll-out of floating offshore wind at scale.

The OWIC report calls for a strategy to tackle skills shortages in key areas such as planning and consenting; high-voltage electrical technicians; engineers; turbine technicians, and those with a range of digital skills. It also said more should be done to attract young people to STEM-related careers.

Energy minister Graham Stuart said: “The 100,000 jobs in this industry by 2030 is remarkable when you think about the number and opportunities that provides, and the kind of areas typically where these are found, many in the areas where we seek as a government to level-up to ensure that economic opportunity is to be found everywhere. We know talent is equally shared around the country, but economic opportunity isn’t always and offshore wind can play a part in that as well”.

Richard Sandford, co-chair of OWIC, said: “The offshore wind sector needs many more people in the short, medium and long-term to power ahead. All of us – across industry and government – need to work even closer together to develop a bold new strategy that attracts all the skills we need to surge ahead as fast as possible”.

Last year, the government announced 11 gigawatts of winning bids for various renewable technologies – the majority of which were offshore wind – at a record-low price.

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