Newcastle College Energy Academy and Port Training Services
The strategic partnership between Newcastle College Energy Academy with Port Training Services, Port of Blyth was established in 2019, building upon the vision of Newcastle College's Energy Academy which is a purpose-built centre for innovation, training, and development for the energy sector. The Energy Academy was designed with the intention to support growth in the energy sector by providing education and training to meet the demand for the jobs anticipated to be created in the move towards net zero. The collaboration with Port Training Services has enabled the development and delivery of offshore, marine, subsea, and port related training in Further Education, Higher Education and Apprenticeships for the benefit of the local community and employers.
Utilising industry partnerships such as that with Port Training Services, the Energy Academy's offer is aligned to existing and emerging training and reskilling needs of the sector. It delivers qualifications through to foundation degree level in subsea engineering, renewable energy technologies and fabrication and welding. It also provides a range of apprenticeships including Welding, Maintenance, Operations and Engineering Technician. The partnership offers accessible routes into the industry for people across the North East, raises awareness of career opportunities and offers access for learners to real working facilities and employers within the Blyth area.
In 2020 a Level 3 Qualification in Subsea Engineering and Offshore Renewable Technology aimed at 16-year-old GCSE school leavers was launched. In year one the recruitment target of 25 was exceeded at 37, this has continued to grow year on year.
The pioneering partnership between Newcastle College and Port Training Services, Port of Blyth, provides an example of a collaboration which delivers tailored and relevant programmes to meet the industry demand for skills and allow the sector to flourish in this region.
Jump Start Your Career with Traineeship Programme
Van Oord Offshore Wind UK (MPI Offshore) is designing new Employability Programmes which provide future generations with the work life skills and experience. With the intended outcome of growing a talent pipeline of future employees into the renewable industry.
The employability programmes will support students from Schools through to university age in the local area, also internationally. A number of employees participate in several careers events to raise awareness of the renewable industry - promoting the Company and Disciplines with the aim to make Van Oord Offshore Wind UK (MPI Offshore) the employer of choice for future employees who are committed to help us grow a sustainable world for all our generations.
Van Oord Traineeship is one of those programmes - 'Jump Start Your Career' aims to support early career talents in kick-starting careers while meeting the ambitions of our high-performance organisation and further developing the expertise and mindset to support the 2030 strategy.
MPI Offshore participates in this traineeship on a yearly basis, working in collaboration with international colleagues, UK Commercial Team and MPI Vessel crew at project locations, the programme was a great success in 2021, assessed regularly against set criteria, students achieved goals through a comprehensive development journey. MPI Offshore look forward to supporting future groups.
Supporting the Future with Student Summer Placements
Van Oord Offshore Wind UK (MPI Offshore) is designing new Employability Programmes which provide future generations with valuable work and life skills and experience. With the intended outcome of growing a talent pipeline of future employees into the renewable industry, the employability programmes will support students from schools through to university age in the local area.
The Van Oord Offshore Wind UK Student Summer Placement programme is delivered in collaboration with local education sectors and colleagues from a wide range of disciplines. The aim is to support school-leavers, college and university students for eight weeks on a structured programme of activities, including project work, site visits, presentations, and hands-on team tasks.
Van Oord Offshore Wind UK plans to introduce the Industrial Cadets accreditation, a national industry-led accreditation designed to enhance workplace experiences for young people, as part of all its employability programmes. This will allow us to evaluate the development activities to ensure successful achievement of the placement.
In addition, our employees participate in careers events to raise awareness of the renewable industry, promote the company and attract employees who are committed to help us grow a sustainable world for future generations.
Connecting ex-forces personnel to the Offshore Wind industry
AIS Survivex have worked to create a programme of training for ex-forces personnel, to equip candidates with relevant skills and certification for employment in the offshore wind sector, whilst aligning to MOD funding rules.
Ex-forces personnel are extremely attractive to the offshore wind sector, as a group of people familiar with working in remote environments, who are adaptable, with demonstrated problem-solving skills.
Each service leaver is offered grant funding, referred to as ELCAS credits, to support re-training to help gain employment when they re-enter civilian life. Historically a challenge has been the courses available through GWO, the recognised certification body for offshore wind, do not conform to the defined "levels," therefore could not be funded.
In response to feedback, the awarding body ITC have produced a Level 3 programme aligned to GWO learning objectives, so ex-forces personnel can now access funded GWO training. AIS Survivex supported this initiative by successfully combining extensive knowledge of employers in the sector, with a close relationship with military organisations. They are now headline sponsors of the British Forces Resettlement Service and have partnered with major employers to refer personnel, for example Correll Group in Seaham.
Through this programme, the offshore wind industry can benefit from the transferrable skills and experience of ex-forces personnel.
Supporting Skills for the Supply Chain
Equinor has launched a new Apprenticeship Levy transfer to support the ongoing development of the North East England offshore wind workforce, with a particular emphasis on local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and companies that are diversifying into the offshore wind industry.
The UK Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 to help businesses offer more sustainable apprenticeship programmes and training opportunities. Levy-paying companies can transfer some of their levy funds to other non-levy paying organisations, with the aim of supporting smaller businesses' training needs.
Apprenticeships facilitated by Equinor's North East Apprenticeship Levy transfer will be delivered in collaboration with the Newcastle College Group (NCG) Energy Academy and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The diverse initial cohort of 8-10 apprentices will begin their training in September 2022, and will be upskilled through the Engineering Operative (Level 2) programme, supporting an identified area of skills shortage in the North East.
Research by the North East LEP has shown there is significant recruitment planned by North East businesses in cable manufacture and services, and engineering and subsea equipment. Key skills required by employers in these areas were level 2 technical roles such as manufacturing operatives and technicians, specialist welders and fabricators, and graduate engineering roles, particularly with electrical engineering and control and instrumentation backgrounds. The initial class of Engineering Operative apprenticeships supported by Equinor will aid the technical development of these skillsets, and will prepare apprentices for higher level qualifications.
Tom Nightingale, North East Stakeholder Manager for Equinor said: “Developing skills in the supply chain is essential to support the growing energy industry, in particular offshore wind. North East England has a proud industrial heritage around engineering and manufacturing and this new initiative will support growth in the sector. The region is leading the UK in offshore wind development and we are excited to be working with Newcastle College to develop the talent of tomorrow”
Linking Offshore Wind careers to the curriculum
Through the innovative North East Ambition programme, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is raising the profile of careers in the North East offshore wind sector, by developing an online careers toolkit in partnership with the Energi Coast Skills Group.
Promoting careers in offshore wind is a key priority for the Energi Coast Skills Group, to build a skilled, diverse, and inclusive workforce for the sector to grow and thrive. However, it can be challenging for both schools and employers to coordinate opportunities to inform young people around these careers, highlight the relevance of the school curriculum, and provide diverse, inspirational role models. A new resource developed by the team at the North East LEP aims to address these challenges.
Working closely with Energi Coast Skills group industry members, the North East Ambition project team identified opportunities to link offshore wind to the core subject curriculum, and developed videos showcasing diverse role models from North East businesses.
The resulting suite of resources can be used by secondary school teachers across the North East to promote careers in the offshore wind sector and highlight the relevance of the school curriculum to the world of work.
Feedback from schools has been excellent with teachers reporting an increased confidence in educating young people about careers in the sector and where to signpost interested students.
Offshore Wind blowing through the University
Newcastle University has always had a strong record of industry interaction on behalf of its students both by academic colleagues and their dedicated Learning Partnerships Team, which embeds industry professionals in the academic schools, focused on developing opportunities for students to interact with industry while at Newcastle.
Since joining the Energi Coast Skills Group Newcastle University have worked with the members to raise the profile of offshore wind among their students. Renewable energy is a key interest of many students across all courses. Their wish to change the planet for the better is aligned to Newcastle University's own focus, as evidenced by being ranked #1 university in the UK for sustainable development.
Membership of the Energi Coast Skills Group has enabled the Newcastle University team to develop meaningful partnerships with employers in this sector. As a result, the diversity of companies their students are engaging with has grown dramatically, as has the variety of opportunity for employers to engage with students; from student projects, interview practice, seminars, guest lectures, networking at events, and a whole host of offsite visits lined up for 2022-23.
Through the partnerships formed in the Energi Coast Skills Group, the university students have a better understanding of the career opportunities available in offshore wind and are better prepared for the world of work. The Newcastle University team plan to build upon these partnerships to further enrich their programmes and curriculum.
For more information - https:go.ncl.ac.uk/learning-partnerships
Supporting Teachers to Champion Offshore Wind
The aim of the 'Sofia Champions for Wind' education programme is to support teachers to encourage 12 to 18-year-olds in Teesside to learn more about offshore wind energy and its career opportunities.
The secondary school education initiative enables teachers to develop their own subject-specific curriculum materials related to offshore wind and its careers.
A total of 10 teachers, plus two support teachers, from nine local secondary schools are now officially 'Champions for Wind' working on the development of curriculum materials in subjects including: Science, Engineering, Geography and History, as well as general Careers.
'Sofia Champions for Wind' is supported by education professionals who guide the teachers through the programme by providing training and support sessions, ensuring access to up-to-date materials and facilitating visits to the project's construction sites, helping the teachers to enhance the content of their curriculum materials.
The programme will be assessed by an expert team from Teesside University to measure its impacts. When the teachers have completed their curriculum materials and they have been tried-and-tested in the classrooms, they will be made available for wider use by other teachers and schools.
Further cohorts will join the programme as Sofia continues through construction.
Osbit investing in future engineering talent
The aim and intended outcomes of the interaction was to invest in future talent to enable Osbit to grow and support our customers effectively.
For a number of years, Osbit has offered as many student placement opportunities as possible for engineering students, with the number of placements growing with the size of the business. The opportunities are targeted to local universities, including Newcastle University. We offer a very hands-on student placement experience, enabling our students to take ownership and make decisions with real consequence from an early stage. Each placement is tailored to the student's skills and interests and we strive to offer a genuinely valuable experience.
In terms of participation, Osbit worked to build relationships with the key university team members, who arrange placements, career fairs and offer presentation opportunities to the engineering students. This relationship has grown over the years to incorporate other opportunities, such as facilitating student visits to our headquarters and assembly facility.
The impact of offering these placements has been significant, with many of our placement students returning to permanent job roles upon completion of their degree. Bringing in such talented young people offers fresh perspectives and fosters innovation in a way that is highly beneficial to our business. It's also a great opportunity for our more experienced team members to mentor and coach future industry leaders, which is found to be rewarding.
Osbit are dedicated to continuing offering placements as a route to nurture and grow engineering talent in North East England.
A pioneering skills partnership for North East offshore wind
Through the Energi Coast Skills Group, Newcastle University and RWE have forged a fruitful partnership, working together to bring the offshore wind sector and the associated opportunities to the attention of students from a host of disciplines.
RWE first step was a stall at Newcastle University's annual OCEANS event, November 2021, which facilitates student networking in all things offshore and maritime related whether Engineering, Marine Consenting, Environmental or Digital. Sue Vincent, Senior Communications Manager at RWE expanded on the development of the Sofia wind farm project that in a presentation that drew in interested students from across Science and Geography too.
Having found the way to the Newcastle University campus RWE was quickly back, Principal Geotechnical Engineer Andy Barwise delivered a guest lecture on the geotechnics of offshore wind farms to students on the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering programme and enlightened the civil engineering students in general about career opportunities in offshore wind and other parts of the energy business with RWE.
Building on this, RWE and Newcastle University are collaborating on two MSc projects in offshore engineering, looking at vortex induced vibration of wind turbines – hopefully the start of many such projects.
Abby French, Faculty Learning Partnerships manager at Newcastle University recognises the value of this partnership "The great thing about this relationship is that when students 'get the bug' for wind, we have partners we can link them to - whether that's a civils student taking up his dream work experience at the Teesside facility groundworks, or a Mechanical Engineer keen to explore latest developments at industry events. Working together has been fruitful for ourselves, RWE, our students – and thereby the whole sector! "
This is our 12th year of supplying professional and technical staff and contractors to major offshore wind projects. We currently work with 6 large Wind Energy companies in the UK but also into the Global Offshore Wind markets.