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Offshore wind industry to treble workforce


Madeleine Cuff  

 

    The UK's offshore wind workforce is set to more than treble over the next eight years to reach 100,000 employees by the end of the decade, according to industry predictions seen by i.

    Boris Johnson wants the UK's offshore wind capacity to jump fivefold by 2030 in a push to wean the UK grid off gas. The target will mean dozens of huge new wind farms are erected around the British coast over the coming years.

    However, there are concerns that recruiting enough skilled workers will be difficult.

    Such a massive expansion will require a huge increase in the industry's workforce, with the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) predicting headcounts will grow from 31,000 employees today to more than 97,000 by 2030.

    Investment in new projects is expected to total £155bn over the next eight years, according to OWIC, delivering 47GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2030.

    The predictions will be a boost for the government's levelling-up agenda, as most jobs are expected to be concentrated in regional hotspots such as the Humber Estuary and Teesside.

    The offshore wind industry insists it is prepared for the recruitment challenge. Siemens-Gamesa, one of the world's largest turbine manufacturers, is doubling the size of its factory in Hull, creating 200 jobs in the next 12 months. Andy Sykes, director of the plant, said: "There's going to be a lot more jobs for the future."

    But the growth in jobs depends on a steady supply of new wind farms winning approval and government contracts. Ministers have promised to speed up the planning process and to hold annual offshore wind auctions to ensure new wind farms are rolled out quickly, however the 50GW target is still seen by developers as hugely ambitious.

    Melanie Onn, deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: "These [job] numbers will only work if all of those projects go ahead in a timely fashion."

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