World class sector needs skilled people to continue growth

Thu, May 18th, 2017

Maritime and energy sector faces greatest skills shortfall

As of this week, Liverpool Bay is now home to the biggest and most powerful wind turbines on the planet. Who knew?

DONG Energy brought the extension to its Burbo Bank windfarm off the Merseyside coast online this week and now have the capacity to power more than 230,000 homes.

To support the expansion, DONG is opening an onshore operations facility in Merseyside, providing 45 high-skill permanent jobs.

Huge contribution

This new development sheds light on Liverpool city region’s huge maritime and energy sector, the size and impact of which is sometimes unappreciated.

The sector contributes £3.4bn to the city region economy every year, representing a hefty 13% of our GDP, and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

And when we talk about a shortfall in skills, it is this sector where the issue will be most acute in the coming years.

Industry leaders

Two members of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce, Peel Ports and SP Energy Networks, took part in a discussion on the subject at the chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey breakfast event last month.

Peel Ports has recently completed its £400m deep water port facility, Liverpool2, at Seaforth.

The terminal, equipped to handle 95% of the world’s biggest container vessels, will directly employ 500 people.

And, as it seeks to attract more of the UK’s container trade away from Southern English ports to the Mersey, it will be a catalyst for a massive expansion of the city region’s logistics industry.

This will require the recruitment of a skilled workforce.

SP Energy Networks, Merseyside’s biggest electricity supplier, is also looking to contribute to the upskilling of our local workforce.

It offers a well-established apprenticeship training programme with a fully-equipped training facility in Hoylake on the Wirral.

Its three-year programme combines technical skills training, academic study and work-based learning and assessment.

Another chamber member, Clarke Energy, is also a leader in the energy field.

From its headquarters in Knowsley, the business offers multinational specialist distributed power generation services.

Cutting-edge research

Cammell Laird, on the banks on the Mersey in Birkenhead, is world-renowned for its shipbuilding – but these days it is much more than that.

It now a multi-faceted engineering business and has recently announced it will be home to a world-class research facility using its in-house expertise to develop new manufacturing methods for the nuclear industry.

Skills levels are one of the best predictors of economic performance, and high-value businesses invest where they can recruit the workforce needed to help their organisations grow. For those people with few or no formal qualifications, policy efforts need to focus on improving numeracy and literacy skills.

Liverpool city region is already a world leader in the maritime and energy sector. In the coming years it could be the engine to accelerate our economic growth. But to take full advantage we need make sure we have the skills locally to make that happen.

That will require a collective effort from local firms, training providers, schools, the Local Enterprise Partnership the City Region Combined Authority and Government.

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