Utility Week

Utility Week 11th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 5 of 31

Comment Chief executive's view Basil Scarsella, UKPN Resourcing the future Viewed by some as dull and uninspiring, the power sector's need to fill skills gaps will give it the opportunity to change this perception and highlight the dynamic and exciting nature of its developments. T he power sector, critical to the UK economy and pivotal to the delivery of the government's energy strategy, is facing critical skills issues. An ageing workforce, replacement and growth of electrical infrastructure, rapid advancement of new technologies and strong competition for talent in the marketplace will all have a major impact on the power sector over the next five to 15 years. If these issues are not considered now, the consequences could be dramatic for our industry in the future. Some would argue that if plans have not already been finalised and begun to be implemented, then it is already too late! With manufacturing and the transport infrastructure reliance on power expected to increase as a result of the move to a lowcarbon economy, we are seeing significant and increasing skills shortages at the technician and engineer levels. Within this context there are specific skills gaps around designers, planners, project engineers, system controllers and project managers. All this is taking place against a background of ever increasing demands for power and replacement of existing infrastructure. By 2024, it is estimated that the power sector will need to have recruited some 50,000 new employees. Being able to attract that quantity of appropriate candidates is ogy, social change and even the climate will likely to be one of our biggest challenges. impact their development. Over the years, the power sector has been It is predicted that jobs growth could viewed by some commentators and poten- exceed 100 per cent of the current workforce tial recruits as somewhat traditional, even in certain areas such as electrical engineerdull and uninspiring. The current situation ing and wind turbine technicians. In addiprovides us all with a unique opportunity to tion, more than 50 per cent of the sector change this perception and increase diversity workforce and short-term contracts are now in its widest sense through highlighting the employed by supply chain companies, utildynamic and exciting nature of our future ity contractors and consulting engineers. A landscape and the development opportuni- lack of consistency and standardisation in ties this will bring. terms of identifying and measurWe will also need to increase ing competence is further comthe availability of quality education pounding the situation and is and skills providers to adequately leading to an inefficient spend on develop the new employees. In tanskills. dem there will be a requirement to The task is clearly complex – upskill our existing staff, while manwe need to meet low-carbon taraging the loss of a large portion of gets; we must continue to renew the sector's current workforce due to infrastructure and operating retirement and natural attrition. systems; and we must mitigate Looking at the wider energy and As many as the impact of the sector's ageing utility skills sector as compared to workforce. An integrated, proonly power, as many as 200,000 new 200,000 new active and innovative approach recruits are forecast to be needed recruits are involving significant levels of by 2025. Successfully sourcing this forecast to recruitment, training and develnumber of new entrants is possiwe be needed by opment is required so that the ble, but only with an accurate view can successfully overcome all of how the sector's industries will 2025 in the challenges and deliver/exceed our evolve and how policy, new technol- utility sector stakeholders' expectations. Green light Tom Greatrex MP Last month, Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint announced policy measures to ensure our energy supply is cleaner, greener and more secure. Unsurprisingly, the headlines have focused on Labour's pledge to freeze energy prices from the election until January 2017. Behind the headlines are a series of measures to address the failings in the energy market. Labour has pledged to scrap the discredited regulator Ofgem "We will deliver a cleaner, more balanced energy mix" and replace it with a new body that has an avowed commitment to making sure that consumers are not exploited. We will introduce a pool for energy rading, t ending under-the-counter deals that benefit generators and s uppliers at the expense of the public, and providing trans parency in the energy market. 6 | 11th - 17th October 2013 | UTILITY WEEK But perhaps most importantly, Labour will drive forward the transformation of the UK's power sector that was begun under the last Labour government. By pledging to decarbonise our electricity supply by 2030, Labour are sending a clear signal that Britain will move to a transparent and sustainable energy future with a framework for investment to promote lowcarbon jobs and growth. Long after January 2017, Labour's new architecture for energy will be delivering a cleaner, more balanced energy mix for the long-term with a market designed to be transparent and a regulator with a relentless focus on the consumer interest. Tom Greatrex, shadow energy minister For the full version of this article, see www.utilityweek.co.uk

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