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East Anglian wind energy skills centre prepares to open its doors

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation leaving the Port of Lowestoft. The offshore wind industry in East Anglia is expected to grow in the coming years. Picture by: Andrew Papworth.

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation leaving the Port of Lowestoft. The offshore wind industry in East Anglia is expected to grow in the coming years. Picture by: Andrew Papworth.

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An employer-led skills centre designed to train the next generation of offshore energy sector workers in East Anglia opens its doors today.

Companies including 3sun Group, Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall have pledged their support to the East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre.

Based at the Great Yarmouth campus of East Coast College, one of the leading partners with 3sun and Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, the centre aim to ensure a pipeline of workers for the multibillion pound offshore wind farms being constructed around the region’s coastline.

The first three-week transition course, for those from engineering backgrounds, will start before the end of the month with the first 12-week course for jobseekers and school leavers kicking off in July.

Stuart Rimmer, chief executive and principal of East Coast College, said the centre would build upon the college’s “long-standing relationship” with the region’s energy coast.

“We envisage some companies might sponsor candidates with a view to taking someone from the programme onto their books when the time is right for them,” he said.

“Employers will be able to look at the candidates coming through and give them the opportunity to go for a trial and, if they don’t get a job with them, they are well-placed to get a job in the supply chain.”

Employers take centre stage in the new project, with 3sun Academy among the centre’s training providers and more than £500,000 worth of equipment including wind turbine generators and blades donated by businesses.

Developers, operators and supply chain companies are also supporting the cost of training – including East Anglia One wind farm developer Scottish Power Renewables, which has invested £55,000 to sponsor up to 13 places.

Some 60 places have been made available in the first phase, with courses taking up to 12 students.

Victoria Sinclair, supply chain strategy manager at Scottish Power Renewables, said the centre would be an important asset in securing a pipeline of talent for the offshore wind sector in East Anglia – one of the “most relevant” areas in the global industry.

“Supporting businesses in East Anglia to train a workforce for the future of the industry is a key part of our skills strategy for East Anglia One,” she said.

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