David Kidney MP, Energy and Climate Change Minister, has announced the approval of the National Skills Academy for Power. This follows the announcement by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson regarding the government's launch of key programmes to ensure the UK economy is supplied with the skills needed to fuel the growth of key new industries in the coming years, and marks the approval of the 15th National Skills Academy.
The National Skills Academy for Power is employer-led and a significant achievement resulting from collaboration between Power Sector employers and Sector Skills Council Energy & Utility Skills; seeking to address major skills issues in the Power Sector.
The UK Power Sector encompasses the power generation from fossil fuels and renewables, power transmission, distribution and metering. Issues such as an ageing workforce, extensive capital growth programmes and a diminishing pool of potential recruits, especially those with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) qualifications, are creating a growing skills challenge. At the same time, the sector is grappling with a seismic shift in technology to meet government and European Union targets on carbon emissions.
Power Sector employers recognise the need to address long-term skills issues with long-term solutions. They know that:
- The Power Sector faces a significant skills shortages - both now and in the future
- Due to the scale of the skills challenges they cannot be solved by any one organisation alone - the sector must work together
- It is critical that action is taken now to address these skills challenges- delivering solutions to a long-term strategy
- Technology is evolving and skills need to evolve too - it is necessary to think and act differently
The Power Sector is fundamental to the well being of the UK economy and crucial to the way our society functions. It is critical to facilitate an adequate supply of competent people to develop, maintain and enhance the sector. The National Skills Academy for Power will seek to:
- Address the challenge of 80% of the workforce retiring or leaving the industry in the next 15 years
- Support the development of a seven-fold increase in skills needed to deliver the 45GW of renewable generation capacity
- Deliver a new skilled workforce to re-new our coal and gas-fired power stations as well as transmission and distribution systems
- Develop partnerships to ensure the delivery of the skills required to enable the deployment of smart meters and smart grids
- Enable the industry to meet ambitious government plans to maintain the security of the UK's power supply, meet low-carbon generation targets and to provide affordable energy
- Position the UK Power Sector workforce as a world leader
During the business plan development year employers have invested over £400k in cash and secondments, plus significant 'in-kind' support to the Skills Academy and over the next 3 years a further £4 million of cash (£1.9 million) and in-kind support will been invested by employers. £2.9m of funding is being provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Since its inception the NSAP has been supported by: ABB, Alstom, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, Carillion Utility Services, CE Electric UK, EDF Energy, Energy Technologies Institute, Enterprise Power Services, E.ON UK, Freedom Group, ITI Energy, Morgan Est, Morrison Utility Services, National Grid, Scottish & Southern Energy and Scottish Power.
Current training provision for the sector is characterised by a mixture of in-company training facilities, private providers, plus Further and Higher Education. Vocational training in the sector has traditionally been provided in-company due to the specialist nature of the skills involved and the requirements for capital intensive specialist equipment. Employers have invested, and continue to invest, in high quality facilities however, as standalone disconnected entities these will not be sufficient to meet projected future demand. Nor are they necessarily best placed to provide a training service to the relatively new contracting workforce. In the 5 years to 2014 the National Skills Academy aims to deliver in excess of 18,000 new learners through a network of quality assured colleges, higher education and private training providers.
Tangible benefits for employers, education and skills providers and learners will be created through the development and delivery of a range of quality, innovative and value driving products and services.
David Kidney, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said:
"There's going to be tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs up for grabs in the energy sector over the coming decade as billions of pounds is invested in the UK as we make the low-carbon transition.
"The Government is providing nearly £3 million of funding for this new Skills Academy because we want to make sure companies have access to highly skilled workers, and that people have the right help and training to take up these great opportunities."
Dave Newborough, Head of Employee Relations, E.ON, and Chair of the National Skills Academy Shadow Board said:
"Over recent years collaboration amongst sector employers has increased significantly on addressing skills issues. We see the National Skills Academy for Power developing in to the key portal for stakeholders to engage with the sector on the skills agenda ranging from Government departments through to education and training providers and most importantly with the much needed future talent looking for a rewarding career during this exciting phase of industry development as we enter a low carbon world".
Steve Davies, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Power added:
"The launch of the National Skills Academy for Power gives Power Sector employers a vehicle with which to address the significant skills issues that we know the industry is facing, from an ageing workforce, massive infrastructure replacement and renewal programmes, through to emerging technologies including renewable energy and smart metering. Already the National Skills Academy for Power has the support of many leading sector employers ensuring that the products and services delivered by the Skills Academy exactly meet employer's needs."