Apprenticeships chance in the offshore wind industry

Technicians working at the Galloper wind farm on the North Sea.

Technicians working at the Galloper wind farm on the North Sea. Picture: ALAN O'NEILL - Credit: Archant

A workforce crisis is looming in the offshore wind industry unless developers, turbine manufacturers and the government take urgent action, according to an industry leader.

Graham Hacon chief executive of Great Yarmouth-based 3sun Group, has spent more than £3 million in the last two years on training new entrants into the industry.

But he says urgent action is needed to avoid a recruitment crisis for the growing industry.

"If my company continues to train at the level it has, it continues to affect our commercial output," he said.

"None of our competitors in the East of England trains on the scale and to the value that we do or shows the same commitment to developing a pipeline of skilled workers to sustain the industry's future demands."

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Mr Hacon will raise the subject for debate at the Southern North Sea Conference in Norwich on Thursday, and is expecting a lively debate.

A new wind turbine technician apprenticeship scheme for the Galloper Wind Farm has been announced by innogy, giving young people the chance to get started in a new career in the growing offshore wind sector.

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Three candidates will be chosen to join the four-year scheme that will include both practical experience and comprehensive classroom-based learning.

They will be hands-on at Galloper's operations and maintenance base in Harwich and offshore wind farm site, 27 kilometres off the Suffolk coast, and will undertake educational sessions as part of a tailored course at the East Coast College, Lowestoft.

Galloper operations and maintenance manager Sean Chenery said: "The apprentices will learn all the technical; health and safety, and fault-finding skills to keep our turbines running safely and efficiently.

"This is a hugely exciting and unique opportunity for motivated young people with a passion for engineering to join our skilled team and evolve into fully fledged offshore wind turbine technicians".

Once trained, the offshore wind technicians will work at sea, in all weathers and at heights of up to 100m, operating complex electrical and mechanical equipment with safety always the first priority. They will also monitor and operate the wind farm assets from Galloper's state-of-the-art control room in Harwich in a 24/7 shift pattern.

On completion of the scheme, the graduates will receive a Level 3 Diploma in Engineering and will be well placed for a long career in the expanding industry.

"It's a hugely rewarding career working on highly technical machinery and is particularly suited to those who enjoy working outside, with their hands and who have an affinity with the marine environment. They will be commuting to work via one of our crew transfer vessels, so it is definitely not your usual nine-to-five office-based job."

Applicants need to have five GCSEs at C or above ideally including science and maths, be keen to learn, able to work at heights and at sea and willing to work shifts.

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