Employers from UK gas and power companies have supported the Energy and Utilities Workforce Renewal & Skills Strategy during its inaugural year.
The Skills Strategy was developed by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a collaboration of 29 leading sector employers which formed in summer 2016. This predated the Government's plans to drive skills reform through pan-sector employer groups.
It documents how the energy and utilities sector will support UK infrastructure by developing a resilient and sustainable workforce.
Nick Ellins (pictured), chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, said: "The importance of the infrastructure sector generally, the skilled people needed to deliver it, the ageing workforce and need for greater inclusivity are all important themes in our Skills Strategy. The developments we have seen, with Ofwat and the Industrial Strategy White Paper, have followed on from recommendations in the Skills Strategy that prioritise growth and productivity. The Skills Strategy has stimulated initiatives that are building sustainability and workforce resilience."
The Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service (EUIAS), gives sector apprentices the opportunity to demonstrate competence to work in safety-critical industries. EUIAS provides high-quality end-point assessment services for nine of the 11 new English standards in this sector.
Over 2,000 apprentices are currently undertaking an apprenticeship within energy and utilities organisations. A further 220 have already passed through the EUIAS end-point assessment service and taken up employment in the sector with leading companies such as E.ON, Electricity North West, Morrison Utility Services, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, Severn Trent Water and UK Power Networks.
The Skills Accord initiative is promoting structured and sustained investment in the technical and operational skills the sector needs most, through commitments in procurement practices.
It has been rolled out after a successful year-long pilot, during which lead partners - Skills Partnership members Amey, National Grid, SSE, Thames Water and UK Power Networks - cascaded the Skills Accord's aims through their delivery partners and supply chain. The 26 companies that originally pledged to its commitments in the pilot year has now grown to 40 in its first year.
Many leading organisations have supported the Skills Strategy, including:
- Ofgem, Ofwat, The Drinking Water Inspectorate and Health and Safety Executive
- GMB, Prospect, UNISON and Unite unions
- Energy UK, the Energy Networks Association, Water UK, British Water and Future Water
- IGEM, The Institute of Water and the Chartered Institute of Waste Management
Basil Scarsella, chief executive, UK Power Networks and chair of the Skills Partnership, said: "It is vitally important to develop a sustainable workforce in an industry that is essential to meet people's everyday needs. Every company is only as good as its employees.
"We are delighted to be part of the Energy and Utility Skills Partnership to encourage collaborative work, and address the findings of the Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy which aims to raise the profile of exciting job opportunities."
Nick Ellins concluded: "We are proud of the progress that the Skills Partnership has made within the first year, but we are not content to rest on our laurels. More political and policy focus should be given to sectors like ours that contribute most to the UK's productivity and economy.
"It is vital that this sector, which is of strategic importance to national productivity, receives the investment it needs to address the challenges it faces. This will stimulate good outcomes for our customers, colleagues, companies and communities, so it can only be good for the UK economy."