In the new Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the UK government defines a clear target to employ at least 33% women in the offshore wind workforce by 2030.

 

The Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry outlines the deal. The proposal, in numbers…

–    Achieve at least 33% women in the total offshore wind workforce by 2030, from 16% today. With the ambition of reaching 40%.

–    Grow highly-skilled jobs to 27,000 by 2030 through a new skills package for offshore wind employees, up from 7,200 today.

–    More than triple UK offshore wind capacity from 8GW today to over 30GW by 2030.

The target amounts to almost 2,000 new jobs per year over the next decade, and an 8X increase in female headcount to 9,000 in 2030.

The challenges and solutions of growth

It’s encouraging that government is getting behind the expansion of both offshore wind and the number of women working in the sector, by cementing the initiative into strategy. It ultimately means greater support and funding.

However, it’s challenging to realise the ambition, especially amongst the economic and political uncertainty of Brexit, both now and in the future.

Addressing the skills shortage to secure the talent pipeline by increasing cultural diversity and the female percentage participation rate will take a multi-faceted approach. Taylor Hopkinson is deeply rooted in the business of renewable energy talent, we are facing these challenges currently with the global offshore wind expansion and we are already working on potential solutions to the risk of constraints on the human resource supply chain.

Industry mapping

One simple solution we executed is to talent map other industries that align with specific talent pinch points on the offshore wind development lifecycle. Offshore oil and gas, shipping and marine infrastructure provided some transferable skill sets. However, this is not a sustainable solution as those industries share the same challenges and compete fiercely to retain talent. It just moves the problem.

What we need is genuine value creation by attracting and fostering new talent. We need to grow the size of the pie instead of fighting over the slices.

Multicultural, multilingual, and gender diversity

In our own business, we would not have achieved our global growth without a multilingual, multicultural ethos. A company thrives on diversity. A diverse culture creates more robust decision-making processes that reduce cultural barriers and draw new talent pools.

Diverse shortlists

We have always encouraged diversity in our client shortlists where possible and we have recently worked with companies that have requested all-women shortlists as a proactive measure to address the imbalance and grow stronger by increasing gender-diversity. By encouraging diversity in culture it can bring significant value by opening up new networks and access to larger talent pools in more populated regions such as Asia.

Fostering diversity in shortlists and opening career opportunities at the leadership level acts like a magnet, attracting others into that industry who are inspired to follow.

WeBridge and community

To build on this further Taylor Hopkinson are the founding sponsor of WeBridge, a collaboration to foster diversity and tackle the challenges in sustainable infrastructure and renewables. WeBridge launched in 2019 with a series of discussions and networking events in London and Paris. The aim is to provide a neutral and independent forum that serves as a catalyst to address the big questions and feed the solutions back into the industry.

Offshore Energy Passports

In terms of action, The UK plans to

  • increase apprenticeships
  • work with educational institutions to develop the newly-skilled workforce
  • and introduce a system of internationally-recognised “Offshore Energy Passports”.

The passports will allow skilled and scarce talent in the energy sectors to work seamlessly overseas. In theory, this will help mobilise the skills and knowledge from the UK’s more mature wind industry to emerging markets in Asia and the US, leading to export opportunities and UK PLC capitalising on our world-leading position.

However, the wording on Offshore Energy Passports suggests that the aim is not only to add 20,000 new jobs in the UK but to supply other regions too.

We need to encourage the import side too and attract overseas talent to the UK. As discussed above, attracting individuals from other regions compounds to draw their existing network to operate underneath and alongside them, providing the much-needed pipeline for long-term sustainable growth. We need a global effort.

2030 – A Global Effort

2030 is a watershed year for renewable energy and is a focal point for curtailing climate change.

The EU is targetting a cut in carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The IPCC Special Report (October 2018) ‘on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels…’ underscored the “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” required by 2030.

Now the UK is setting out an ambitious intent to “become a global leader in renewables with more investment potential than any other country in the world as part of the modern Industrial Strategy”.

We welcome the forward planning and support for renewables. It’s incumbent on everyone – government, industry, and citizens – to work through the fine details and realise the 2030 targets.