Written by Gwynt Glas Offshore Wind
We would like to thank Marine Energy Wales for facilitating and bringing so many industry stakeholders together at their annual conference to progress and discuss all things marine energy. In particular the significant Celtic Sea floating offshore wind opportunity, commonly referenced as ’a once in a lifetime opportunity’ was a main focus for many during this two-day event.
We were delighted to sponsor students from Pembrokeshire College to attend the conference and learn how their studies could open a door into a career in the sector. They spent time on the exhibition floor completing a key data collection exercise that will feed into their Extended Project Qualification next year.
Speaking of his experience, A-Level student, Andrew Scott, said:
“It was a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of potential future employers, as well as learn all about their companies and projects. All the current research and development that the event was able to show gives me hope for the future of Wales, creating a greener future.
It has also provided a spark for me, as I’m sure it has for others, to enter the renewables field as it grows in the next 5 years. It was amazing to be able to see the plans that have been proposed for Wales and to learn about how each will benefit the local and national economies.”
It was clear from the panel sessions that the size of the prize could be GREAT. The road ahead is challenging, but it is imperative we use our initiative, as well as our local facilities, skills and ambition, to secure the long-term, sustainable, prosperity that Floating Offshore Wind offers the Celtic Sea region.
Claire Gilchrist, Project Manager for Gwynt Glas
At the event Claire Gilchrist, Project Manager for Gwynt Glas, joined a passionate panel discussion to talk about the progress made by the team to bring education, industry, local government, statutory stakeholders and local supply chain together to pilot a programme to enthuse ‘Our Future Workforce’, and build the skills and training development needed to meet the rapid industry growth demands.
Claire focused on how the Gwynt Glas team are leveraging the workforce planning experience and knowledge gleaned from other significant EDF infrastructure projects, like Hinckley Point C, which have drawn on the experience and capabilities found in Wales and the South West. The Hinckley Point C project has created 15,000 jobs directly on the construction site, and trained more than a thousand apprentices and 500 young people in three new purpose-built training centres of excellence.
Claire highlighted three proactive Gwynt Glas project initiatives to give local people an introduction to the sector, the skills needed and new jobs required to deliver a successful project:
PHASE 1 Pilot – Gwynt Glas project partners, EDF Renewables and DP Energy, are supported by 23 delivery companies from across the renewable energy sector. Over 40 talented professionals have delivered sessions to inspire and showcase careers within the sector, engaging with over 90 learners during the year in this award-winning programme.
PHASE 2 Roll-Out – Based on learner feedback from the pilot phase we will tailor the course to focus on areas of most interest and methods of delivery to suit learner needs. With interest from other colleges within the region and local authorities we hope to make the course accessible to the wider jurisdiction.
#2- Skills Competition Wales – Renewable Energy has been introduced as a specific category in the Skills Wales Competition for the first time in this established education initiative, and is here to stay. Eight teams from seven colleges across Wales took part in this competition with representatives from Gwynt Glas helping scope, mediate and score the project ideas. Let’s hope that, through our collective efforts to raise awareness of the opportunities in this sector, the number of entrants will double next year.
#3-SEREN Innovation Project – In a bid to give Welsh students ‘a competitive edge’ when completing their UCAS applications, the Gwynt Glas team organised for twenty-seven students across three counties to immerse themselves for a day in a workshop taking them through the key phases of ‘How to build a windfarm’. The day ended with the A-level learners presenting brilliant project development proposals.
The team are heartened that the experiences and learning coming from these three initiatives are having a positive impact on the learners we have engaged with like Andrew Scott and his peers who got a glimpse of our sector in action, but we appreciate there is much more to do.
Destination Renewables participation has been predominantly male in its first year. In terms of female representation from industry in the classroom however, this has been a 60:40 female to male ratio. We saw a 50:50 gender spilt in our SEREN programme and in the Skills Wales Competition, which demonstrates appetite and enthusiasm for the industry across the board. We are hopeful that as the sector ramps up early years STEM engagement, and engages with a wider cohort of learners, we will see more female students taking up renewables related courses and turning up to future job interviews.
At the conference panel session, Claire Gilchrist raised the issue of how we build diversity into our project teams and encourage representation from all corners of society and community groups. Representation, be it gender, minority-groups, disability, sexuality, neuro-divergent, religion, diversity in recruitment makes for an inclusive, adaptable, sustainable future workforce. We have an opportunity to champion equality for all.
EDF Renewables and DP Energy’s Gwynt Glas education initiatives so far have been focused on raising awareness and the aspirations of 16 to 18 year olds. This is just one small demographic of the wider audience we need to target as an industry. Small steps, but positive action and intent from an industry keen to succeed in creating the thousands of green jobs needed in a bid to meet Net Zero.