Offshore wind jobs set to more than treble by 2030 in boost to Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda
The UK’s offshore wind workforce is set to more than treble over the next eight years to reach 100,000 employees by the end of the decade, according to industry predictions seen.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the UK’s offshore wind capacity to jump five-fold by 2030 in a push to wean the UK grid off gas. The target will see dozens of huge new wind farms erected around the British coast over the coming years.
However, there are concerns that recruiting enough skilled workers will be difficult to achieve. Already there are shortages in some key areas such as consenting, data analysis, and electrical connections.
Such a massive expansion in capacity will require a huge increase in the industry’s workforce, with the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) predicting headcounts will grow from 31,000 employees today to more than 97,000 by 2030.
The figures are based on assessments of the current workforce and analysis of projects in planning and under development. Investment in new projects is expected to total £155bn over the next eight years, according to OWIC, delivering 47GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2030.
With the UK economy in turmoil, the predictions will be a major boost for the government’s levelling up agenda – particularly as most jobs are expected to be concentrated in regional manufacturing hotspots such as the Humber Estuary and Teesside.
“This report demonstrates the extraordinary potential of renewable energy to create jobs, drive investment and secure cheaper clean electricity,” said energy minister Greg Hands.
“We have ambitious plans to go even further as the UK becomes a global renewable energy powerhouse”.
The offshore wind industry insists it is prepared for the recruitment challenge. Siemens-Gamesa, one of the world’s largest turbine manufacturers, is currently doubling the size of its factory in Hull, creating 200 new jobs over the next 12 months.
“There’s a real head of steam and momentum building, and there’s going to be a lot more jobs for the future, that’s for sure,” said Andy Sykes, director of the Siemens-Gamesa Hull plant.
But the growth in jobs depends on a steady supply of new wind farms winning approval and government contracts.
Ministers have promised to speed up the planning process and to hold annual offshore wind auctions to ensure new wind farms are rolled out quickly, however, the 50GW target is still seen by developers as hugely ambitious.
“These [job] numbers will only work if all of those projects go ahead, and go ahead in a timely fashion,” warned Melanie Onn, deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK.
Diversity is another major challenge. The offshore wind industry prides itself on being ethical and progressive, but currently, almost 80 percent of the workforce is male and 96 percent is white.
It has a target for women to women to make up at least one-third of the workforce by 2030, and for black, Asian and ethnic minority people to account for at least nine percent of the workforce by the same date.
“Now it’s an absolute concerted effort to try to encourage as many women and people from ethnic minorities… to come into the sector,” Ms Onn told i. “It’s a challenge, there’s no denying it”.
Source iNewsJune 17, 2022