More than 370 Suffolk students attended a skills conference supported by ScottishPower Renewables to learn about a career in the offshore renewables sector.
The Lowestoft Skills Conference took place on Thursday 30th March at East Point Academy in Lowestoft and saw Year 9,10 and 11 students from the college and other local academies attend to find out more about the industry.
The skills event was set up to raise the profile of the wide variety of careers available in the offshore renewables sector. Organised by Nwes World of Work in partnership with the Academy, the message of the day was to highlight the opportunities on their doorstep and encourage students to seriously consider whether a career in the industry might be right for them.
Joanna Young, Stakeholder manager for East Anglia ONE talks to students at Lowestoft Skills Conference
ScottishPower Renewables, the developer behind the £2.5bn East Anglia ONE project, a 102-turbine windfarm off the coast of East Anglia, engaged with hundreds of students at the event.
In collaboration with East Anglia ONE turbine provider Siemens, ScottishPower Renewables held two skills workshops during the day to get students involved and open their eyes to the raft of exciting careers the industry has to offer. The workshops gave students an overview of the different renewable energy sources, with particular focus on wind power. Students also listened to a careers talk from a wind turbine engineer, which included looking at the equipment engineers carry with them to service or repair turbines. Several students took the opportunity to try on the engineer’s safety harness to gain an understanding of what it’s like to be a turbine engineer.
Thomas Felton, who was part of the team involved with the workshops, grew up in Lowestoft and is now project change controller at ScottishPower Renewables. Thomas commented: “It’s been a brilliant day. The students were keen to learn more, especially in the workshops, and asked a lot of questions.
“Events like this are invaluable in recruiting the next generation of professionals to the renewable energy sector. There are enormous possibilities and career paths to take, from engineering to planning, project management to electricians. It’s a varied and exhilarating industry to work in.”
Charlie Jordan, project director for East Anglia ONE, commented: “East Anglia ONE is the first of up to four projects we are hoping to build off the coast of East Anglia and we are very keen to develop a skilled local work force that can access the huge number of jobs which come with these projects and others planned nearby. Supporting young professionals through education and training is an important part of our skills strategy and commitment to the region. We are keen for people in East Anglia to be equipped with the capabilities and vision to lead the energy industry into the future.”
In November 2015, ScottishPower Renewables signed a £25m deal with the Port of Lowestoft for it to act as the main operations and maintenance hub for the anticipated lifespan of the windfarm. Following this, an agreement was reached with Peel Ports Great Yarmouth for £5million to be co-invested in preparing the facility to support offshore construction and installation work in 2018. The port will host load-in, pre-assembly, marshalling and load-out operations for wind turbine components for East Anglia ONE.
Thomas Felton added: “I grew up in Lowestoft and I went to college here too, so it’s really exciting for me to see the investment and the creation of jobs in the town. To be playing a part in a project I’ve heard so much about over the last few years is really exciting. East Anglia is truly at the forefront of the offshore wind industry, so it’s the perfect time to promote the career opportunities to students who are thinking about their next steps after school.”
ScottishPower Renewables has now commenced pre-construction work on its East Anglia ONE project and is expecting to hear from the Secretary of State with a decision on its East Anglia THREE project in June this year.
The Lowestoft Skills Conference was also supported by OrbisEnergy and Suffolk County Council through the Lowestoft Rising programme.
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About East Anglia ONE:
East Anglia ONE will see 102 wind turbines installed in the southern North Sea, approx. 26 miles off the coast. The overall investment will be in the region of £2.5 billion, and the project is planned to meet the annual electricity demands of the equivalent of 500,000 homes. Construction is planned to commence in 2017, with the first turbines installed by 2019, and the project will be fully operational during 2020.