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Skills development to be stimulated by Equinor around the Dogger Bank Wind Farm project with initial apprentice cohort undertaking Engineering Operative training beginning in September 2022
Equinor is launching a new Apprenticeship Levy transfer to support the ongoing development of the North East England offshore wind workforce, with a particular emphasis on local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and companies that are diversifying into the offshore wind industry.
The UK Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 to help businesses offer more sustainable apprenticeship programmes and training opportunities. Levy-paying companies can transfer some of their levy funds to other non-levy paying organisations, with the aim of supporting smaller businesses’ training needs.
Apprenticeships facilitated by Equinor’s North East Apprenticeship Levy transfer will be delivered in collaboration with the Newcastle College Group (NCG) Energy Academy and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The diverse initial cohort of 8-10 apprentices will begin their training in September 2022, and will be upskilled through the Engineering Operative (Level 2) programme, supporting an identified area of skills shortage in the North East.
Research by the North East LEP has shown there is significant recruitment planned by North East businesses in cable manufacture and services, and engineering and subsea equipment. Key skills required by employers in these areas were level 2 technical roles such as manufacturing operatives and technicians, specialist welders and fabricators, and graduate engineering roles, particularly with electrical engineering and control and instrumentation backgrounds. The initial class of Engineering Operative apprenticeships supported by Equinor will aid the technical development of these skillsets, and will prepare apprentices for higher level qualifications.
Future cohorts of apprentices in the North East will follow when the wind farm enter operations and will be delivered through Equinor’s collaboration with local colleges including Newcastle Energy Academy.
Halfdan Brustad, Equinor’s VP for Dogger Bank, said: “Skills development is a critical enabler for the offshore wind industry to continue developing, with nearly 100,000 people expected to be employed in the industry in the UK by 2030. Equinor is proud to support businesses in our host communities in the North East of England, through this Apprenticeship Levy transfer for a cohort-scale intake. We’re delighted to be able to replicate the model of a pilot cohort of apprentices that we recently launched in the East of England, as a diverse, capable workforce of the future is required to deliver on the UK’s ambitions of 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.”
Tom Nightingale, North East Stakeholder Manager for Equinor said: “Developing skills in the supply chain is essential to support the growing energy industry, in particular offshore wind.The North East has a proud industrial heritage around engineering and manufacturing and this new initiative will support growth in the sector. The region is leading the UK in offshore wind development and we are excited to be working with Newcastle College to develop the talent of tomorrow”
Scott Bullock, Principal of Newcastle College, said: “Newcastle College is proud to be working with Equinor and supporting their apprenticeship levy sharing initiative, in order to deliver apprenticeships for the North East’s renewable energy sector. Our vision is to develop the skills and talents of our learners, with the intention of addressing local skills gaps and driving forward the growth and prosperity of our region. This partnership will help us as we work towards achieving this vision and allow us to continue to lead the way in training a new generation of engineers for one of the region’s fastest growing industries.”
Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP, said: "As the North East energy and net zero sectors continue to grow, we need to make sure that the next generation of workers have the skills they'll need to build careers in the industry. Apprenticeships are a brilliant way to gain top quality, on-the-job experience combined with classroom learning, meaning we can develop a pipeline of young people who have the technical skills we need in the region as we work together to create more and better jobs in areas like offshore wind and the energy supply chain."
In the North East of England, Equinor is developing, along with its partners SSE Renewables and Eni Plenitude, the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm off the coast of Yorkshire. Dogger Bank will be the largest wind farm in the world once installed. Equinor will be the lead operator of Dogger Bank for the expected 35-year lifetime of the wind farm.
Equinor will be present at Renewable UK’s Global Offshore Wind event in Manchester on 21-22 June, and will be hosting a Dogger Bank Operations Careers Fair that supports the ongoing recruitment of some of the 200 people needed to operate and maintain the wind farm once fully constructed.