The number of jobs in the UK offshore wind industry will swell by more than 43,000 within the next five years, according to a new report.
The Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) has published a study predicting more than £60billion of private investment into the UK sector by 2026.
Meanwhile the number of direct and indirect jobs will surge 165% from 26,000 today to 69,800.
The Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence Report, commissioned by OWIC, was set up as part of the offshore wind sector deal agreed with the UK Government in 2019.
The study estimates average annual private sector investment of £10.1billion to 2026 with that final year reaching a peak of £10.6bn, as the industry works to quadruple offshore capacity over the next decade with the government’s net zero targets.
Described as “the most comprehensive ever conducted in the UK” into the economic benefits of the sector, the study was carried out by RenewableUK, the National Skills Academy for Rail and independent data analysts Opergy Ltd.
Over 80% of current offshore wind jobs are outside of London and south-east England, with Scotland having the highest portion at 30%.
That’s followed by Yorkshire and The Humber at 15%, the north-east of England at 10% and the east of England, also at 10%.
OWIC said the “regional percentages will be maintained at this level as jobs increase over the course of this decade, providing sustained long-term growth in these areas”.
Of the predicted 69,800 jobs figure, 40,700 (nearly 60%) will be direct and 29,100 will be indirect through companies supplying other industries as well as offshore wind.
RenewableUK said the industry currently accounts for over 26,000 jobs, comprised of 15,200 direct and 10,800 indirect jobs.
The total includes nearly 3,700 self-employed workers identified for the first time during the year-long research.
When the offshore wind sector deal was announced in 2019, just over 7,200 people were directly employed by the industry.
RenewableUK deputy CEO Melanie Onn, who leads’ OWIC’s people and skills work, said: “We’ll see a surge of tens of thousands of new jobs over the next five years as offshore wind will put the rocket boosters under the UK’s green economic recovery.
“By investing over £60 billion of private capital between now and 2026, this industry is helping to kickstart our economy after the pandemic.”
The new study sets out that the wide range of expected new jobs includes engineers, project managers, software designers, component manufactures, turbine technicians, welders, deep sea divers, boat crews and helicopter pilots.
Companies responding to the survey highlighted that the industry “is looking in particular” to fill vacancies for electrical engineers, civil engineers, project managers, surveyors, data analysts and digital specialists in roles based onshore as well as offshore.
Ben Miller, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “As the windiest country in Europe, this research shows that 30% of the UK’s offshore wind workforce is currently based here in Scotland, with this set to increase to over 20,000 jobs in the next few years and grow even more as offshore wind plays an ever more central role in our net-zero economy.
“Many of these highly-skilled jobs are based in coastal and rural areas, bringing investment and opportunities to local communities which otherwise would not exist.”