Tens of thousands of jobs are on the horizon in the new renewables, energy and chemicals process workforce over the coming few years, and many of them will be on the Humber, say industry experts.
The massive potential for jobs in the region will come under the spotlight at a Hull conference organised by Humber Chemical Focus Ltd (HCF) and the University of Hull’s business-facing renewable energy and low carbon organisation, CASS.
Entitled ‘New Energy Workforce, securing the skills for a low carbon future,’ the event, to be held at the University of Hull on March 28, will assess how the region’s businesses, local government and communities can work together to make the most of the opportunity.
Prof. Stephanie Haywood, director of CASS, said: “The demand for educated, well-trained professionals is there in the job market, but we need to work in tandem with industry and particularly energy businesses to identify transferable skills and ascertain specifically what is required and when.
“That necessary dialogue makes this event an important stepping stone on the way to creating the workforce for growth in a sustainable, low carbon economy in the Humber and across the UK.”
Major UK industry figures will be speaking at the event, including Dr. Eddie O’Conner, chief executive, Mainstream Renewable Power; Tim Balcon, chief executive, Energy & Utility Skills; Glenn Sibbick, project director, Centrica Storage, and senior representation from Siemens.
Sabine Holmes, ChemSkills manager for HCF, said that prospective employees with qualifications in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, would be required, especially in the Humber region, which was leading the rest of the country in the level of new employment and investment, according to recent Department of Energy and Climate Change figures.
“There are significant skills gaps in the UK’s existing energy and process industries, and the Humber is no exception,” said Mrs Holmes. “It is so important that we act now to turn what could be a green skills crunch on its head into a green skills opportunity.
“As more renewables and low carbon industries are drawn to invest in the Humber, the demand for skilled and experienced workers in the region is set to increase.
“The challenges and opportunities presented by these skills gaps require businesses, education and training providers to act now both strategically and operationally, working together to deliver the workforce that our current and future industries will demand.”
Another speaker is Steve Batty, production manager, Vivergo Fuels, which is due to begin production of bioethanol and animal feed at its new Saltend plant in east Hull.
“There appears to be a lack of true links between educational providers and industry with the right kind of training unavailable either for the youngsters coming through schools and colleges or for mature trainees,” said Mr Batty, who helped set up a training arrangement between JobCentre Plus and Hull College which eventually saw Vivergo take on six students who had been through a specially designed programme.
“I think that a lot more can be done to build contacts between experienced engineers and educators as well as getting them into the classrooms to help show students and teachers the challenges industry faces and the opportunities that are coming through.
“When we started looking at the pool of available talent, it was quite shallow as engineers or operatives where either retiring or there was a lack of potential employees with the right kind of training we were looking for.
“We have ended up recruiting about 60 per cent of our workforce who had no previous experience of working in a hi-tech processing plant.”
The conference is targeted at the energy industries, as well as students and apprentices, colleges, schools and universities, careers advisers, business support organisations, government and public sector organisations.
Running between 1pm and 6pm on Wednesday, March 28, at the University of Hull’s Allam Lecture Theatre, it will be preceded by a business exhibition and workshop, with refreshments provided before and after.
A question and answer panel discussion will be chaired by Tom Heap, BBC Countryfile presenter and Panorama reporter.
Tickets cost £75 +VAT (£60 +VAT early bird) for HCF members, or £90 +VAT (£75 +VAT early bird) for non-members. The early bird discount is available until February 29, 2012.
A limited number of sponsorship and exhibition opportunities are also available. For more information or to book your place please contact Bethan Clayton, HCF, t. 01469 552841, e. firstname.lastname@example.org