Significant swell in North Sea offshore wind jobs expected, report claims

Saipem 7000 lifting the Hywind turbine towers into their floating foundations
Saipem 7000 lifting the Hywind turbine towers into their floating foundations

The jobs requirement for the UK North Sea offshore wind industry is set to swell over the next ten years, according to a new skills report.

With the sector’s generation capacity due to jump from 0.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to 7.7GW by 2032, the study concludes employment in the North Sea could grow by more than 500%.

The UK Offshore Wind Skills Study by the Energy and Utility Skills group said the installation of more than 1,000 turbines could see a jobs boost of 9,200 additional staff UK-wide.

But according to the report, Scotland is to see one of the steepest growth in jobs as a number of huge wind projects begin construction.

A jobs jump of more than 6,000 is predicted in Scotland in the offshore wind sector alone.

The report also concludes that the sector may find it “challenging” to fill roles as it attempts to satisfy the demands of a £14 billion investment in the North Sea.

The study added that the sector could need an influx of 100,000 additional workers by as early as 2024.

Including 30,000 skilled trades and nearly 30,000 operatives, technicians and engineers.

The report said that “although not a significant problem at the moment” finding the skills required could present a problem for the sector.

The report added: The ability of the regional labour market to meet these talent demands is unclear – while the region has a high proportion of people with level 2 and 3 skills (forming a good operative and skilled trades base) it may well lack the required higher-level skills, with fewer than 1,900 graduates in 2015/16 with relevant degrees from the region’s universities.

“Creating a larger and more diverse talent pool is essential if the region is to capitalise fully on the benefits of a growing offshore wind industry.”

The report also warned that the potential job increase could be affected by a number of factors such as “workforce strategies” by owners and operators.

Last year, Seaway Heavy Lifting, contracted by SSE for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project in the Moray Firth, came under fire after it was revealed a number of non-EU nationals on the firm’s Stanislav Yudin crane vessel were earning below the national minimum wage.

SHL denied the allegations.

But Liam Wilson, an inspector for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), described the situation as “effectively slave labour”.

Mr Wilson said he was “shocked” to discover the crew manifest only listed “one Latvian seafarer” and 141 non-EU nationals on board the vessel.

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