Offshore wind 'workforce crisis'

A 3sun Group technician at work on a turbine off the east coast (Photo: 3sun Group) A 3sun Group technician at work on a turbine off the east coast (Photo: 3sun Group)
Industry Database

A workforce crisis is looming in the UK’s burgeoning offshore wind industry according to Graham Hacon of 3sun Group.

The Great Yarmouth-based 3sun Group, has spent more than £3 million in the last two years on training new entrants into the industry.

But Graham says businesses training technicians and inspection engineers can no longer carry the financial burden of funding training then lose tenders to companies that invest nothing.

From the stage of the Southern North Sea conference, SNS2019 in Norwich, Graham has called for critical solutions to prevent a crisis.

“If my company continues to train at the level it has, it continues to affect our commercial output,” he said.

“None of our competitors in the East of England trains on the scale and to the value that we do or shows the same commitment to developing a pipeline of skilled workers to sustain the industry’s future demands.

“However, when it comes to tendering, there remains no recognition for companies like ours that make this investment. We pay for the training, and then don’t get awarded the work.”

Mr Hacon is looking for a productive debate about the issue he has already shared with energy minister Claire Perry and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis.

“It is the only way to move forward if we are to be an ethical industry in how the supply chain is treated,” he said.

“If we stop making this annual investment on skills provision, the East of England, local people in areas like Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft that need the regeneration by our industry won’t be trained, young people won’t have the apprenticeships and the industry will become transient.”

He has called for evidence of training provision to be compulsory in tenders.

Mr Hacon has run his 300-strong staff business for 12 years, running apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship schemes, training ex-military, oil and gas and driving the pioneering employer-led East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre and the 3sun Academy.

“Companies must be made to demonstrate their commitment to training and development of people, and the industry, in tenders if the industry wants long term sustainability in the supply chain and be able to say offshore wind is an ethical industry in how the supply chain is treated."

By Jake Frith

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