Waveney: Anglo-French funding boost for energy jobs

A DISTRICT council is hoping to turn a �340,000 skills investment into renewable energy industry jobs.

As a part of a �1.7m public and private sector project, Waveney will receive the European funding to help identify training and skills for local people to work in offshore wind.

The Building European Environmental Maritime Skills (BEEMS) Project is being led by Southampton City Council and will be delivered over two years by a partnership of UK and French local and regional authorities, industry associations, educational institutions and training providers.

Waveney is one of four UK councils involved, and the only local authority included in the East of England partnership alongside Marine East, Lowestoft College and the East of England Energy Group (EEEGr).

The investment aims to provide resources to compete in the growing marine renewable energy market and ensure local people have the skills necessary to work in an industry projected to create around 47,200 new jobs nationwide.

Bruce Provan, the council’s economic development chief, said: “Working with partners from the Solent region and Northern France, this project will really help to ensure that Waveney creates a workforce with the skills to place us at the forefront of the offshore wind industry.

“The Funding will also help local small to medium businesses to play a part in the supply chain and I am delighted that the hard work which went in to this project is paying off.”

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Southampton City Council and its cross-channel partners raised �830,955, which has been match funded by the EU to encourage cooperation projects between coastal regions of Britain and France.

Funding for Waveney was agreed at a summit hosted by Suffolk County Council at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich. Councillor Judy Terry, the county’s head of economic development, said: “This is excellent news. The growth of the renewable energy industry in Suffolk means there are, and will be, a great number of apprenticeship and job opportunities for local people. But for Suffolk to really capitalise on that opportunity, we need to make sure people have the right skills.

“Suffolk is increasingly leading the way in green energy production and I’m confident that this new funding will help us do even more.”

Projections indicate the renewable market is set to create an estimated 29,700 direct and 17,500 indirect new jobs in the UK, with a further 10,000 in France, from 2015 onwards.

The Waveney coast overlooks two of the worlds biggest potential wind farm developments in the Greater Gabbard windfarm and the East Anglia Array, expected to start by 2015.

The EADT is currently backing the county’s Raising the Bar initiative to increase aspirations among young people through matching the skills they gain in school with the requirements of major employers, especially in energy sector.