Set to open its doors in late 2016, the college will offer students post-A-level professional qualifications; equipping young people with the engineering and technical skills required in the wind industry – particularly offshore, where ‘a large growth in skills is needed’.

Mike Parker, chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Wind energy generation is still relatively new and demands higher-level skilled employees. The lack of an able, qualified workforce has led to the sector facing a serious challenge in filling vacancies.

“Having a dedicated national college will be a major step forward in helping the UK to bridge that gap.”

Minding the gap

The scheme, which will be funded by employers and a government grant, has been announced a day after IEMA urged the UK Government to address a sustainability skills gap in the workforce.

Trade association RenewableUK recently warned that 37% of its members had ‘hard-to-fill- vacancies’. RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffrey said this college was great news for the UK’s continued leadership in offshore wind energy.

“This unique college will provide cutting edge training for a generation of young people looking for a springboard into renewable energy,” said McCaffrey. “We need to ensure we maximise the extraordinary rise of green jobs in the UK.

“The growth in much-needed wind projects onshore and offshore has created a real demand for new skills and training as the sector goes from strength to strength. The college’s launch means we are one step closer to ensuring our global lead in offshore wind is reflected in home-grown skills as well.”

Natural choice

The North East region is becoming a hub for offshore wind, with projects being developed on both banks of the Humber Estuary.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “The Humber is the natural choice for the HQ of the new National College for Wind Energy. Through the College, Government and industry are investing in the people who will create local jobs and prosperity for the region. 

“By arming people with the skills they need to be energy specialists we can provide career opportunities for thousands of young Britons, boost the competitiveness of British firms and help the UK economy remain strong for the future.”

The National College of Wind Energy is one of of four National Colleges being announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable today; including a College for Advanced Manufacturing in Sheffield and Coventry, a College for Creative and Cultural Industries in Essex and a College for Digital Skills in London.

Brad Allen

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