Suffolk: Major energy projects could deliver �30billion shot in the arm for county’s economy

MAJOR energy projects could deliver a �30billion shot in the arm for Suffolk’s economy, it has been claimed.

Lowestoft-based OrbisEnergy says projects such as Sizewell C, wind farms off the Suffolk coast and the decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas platforms could create thousands of jobs.

Johnathan Reynolds, the firm’s business development manager, called on the county’s engineering and construction firms to evolve and capitalise on a “huge opportunity”.

He said there was �30bn of contracts up for grabs in Suffolk and Norfolk over the next eight years and around �271bn across the UK.

“Offshore wind and energy is a global business so there’s no reason why companies can’t pursue opportunities in Europe and beyond,” he said. “It’s a huge, huge, opportunity for Suffolk businesses not just here but also the �271bn across the United Kingdom.

“Hopefully growth in this sector will stimulate a significant number of new jobs. I can’t give you a figure on how many, it could be anything from 1,000 to 10,000.”

Mr Reynolds added the investment would bring significant knock-on benefits to smaller Suffolk businesses, from taxi firms to hairdressers.

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But he said although Suffolk’s workforce did not yet have all the skills required it was progressive in terms of investing in apprenticeships.

“We do have a lot of the skills required but not necessarily all of them, like the high-level technical and engineering skills,” he said. “Most parts of the UK are having serious problems though. It’s a national issue. Suffolk is certainly one of the more progressive areas in terms of investing in new apprenticeships.”

Earlier this summer Suffolk County Council (SCC) announced the launch of the Suffolk Energy Ambassador programme, which looks to link every county secondary school to the energy sector.

Judy Terry, cabinet member with responsibility for skills and training at SCC, said: “With the Suffolk Energy Ambassador Programme we hope to excite and motivate young people about the great career opportunities that are currently available in the energy sector.

“It will provide students with a real chance to broaden their horizons and speak directly with people already in that line of work to gain advice, guidance and support.

“The programme is really flexible and allows ambassadors to choose how much time they invest in their role and focus on their specific energy interests. Not only will ambassadors be giving back to their community, but they will be encouraging new entrants into the industry - the future workforce.”

Together with the county council the EADT is currently supporting a pioneering education and skills initiative aimed at Suffolk’s youngsters.

Raising the Bar is aiming to increase aspirations among the county’s young people - but particularly matching the skills they gain in school with the requirements of major employers. This is seen as a particular challenge for the energy sector, with major developments planned in the county in both the nuclear and wind power industries.

OrbisEnergy works to stimulate investment and support businesses involved in the region’s offshore energy sector.