Sector looks to tackle looming skills shortage with new push to attract thousands of former military personnel to careers in offshore wind

The Offshore Wind Industry Council has today announced the launch of a dedicated new Military Working Group that aims to help attract more former military personnel to careers in the fast-expanding offshore wind sector.

The group is to reach out to the estimated 14,000 people that leave the military each year, many of them for new careers, as the offshore wind industry looks to address fears that it could soon face a looming skills gap.

The sector already employs around 26,000 people in the UK, but it is estimated that the offshore wind workforce will need to increase to 69,000 people over the next five years as the sector looks to deliver on the government’s goal of 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 – a near four-fold increase on current levels.

As such, a wave of new offshore wind farms is in the pipeline, while plans are also underway to build a number of new turbine factories along the east coast of the UK, all of which are set to create thousands of jobs.

However, as with the wider green economy there are concerns that developers and manufacturers could struggle to attract the technically skilled workforce required to deliver such projects.

The new group aims to highlight how military personnel often have a raft of transferable skills that are suitable to the offshore industry, while also showcasing the industry to ex-servicemen and women.

In addition, the group aims to develop a network of ex-military personnel who are now working in the offshore wind industry to support each other, and advise governments and decision-makers on policy and training requirements.

The launch of the new group was welcomed by Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, who said the “fantastic initiative will provide service leavers and veterans with opportunities to help them find employment as they leave the military, whilst working towards this country’s efforts to achieve net zero”.

The group is to be chaired by Colin Brown of Aker Offshore Wind, who said it represented “a vital step in future-proofing our industry”.

“There is going to be an unprecedented increase in the offshore wind workforce, and we need people coming in at all levels, from diverse backgrounds and with different experiences, skills and competencies,” he said. “The new group is an opportunity for us to give credible support for those leaving service or transitioning from other industries. Those who have served for the UK armed forces can play a key role in our route to net zero.”

His comments were echoed by RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, Melanie Onn, who leads the Offshore Wind Industry Council’s People and Skills work.

“People of all ages who’ve worked in the armed forces can bring valuable skills and experience to the offshore wind industry at the very time when we need them most to help us to scale up to meet net zero as fast as possible,” she said. “The UK’s offshore wind capacity is set to quadruple in this decade alone. The new Military Working Group, which includes representatives from the biggest companies in our sector, will highlight new career paths for ex-servicemen and women and work with them to identify the training they need to make the transition. The industry has a huge variety of roles to offer from turbine technicians to project managers.”

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