- ‘People’ and ‘Infrastructure,’ listed among the five foundations of productivity, resonate with the sector’s Workforce Renewal & Skills Strategy
- Investment in STEM and a national retraining scheme as well as a series of ‘grand challenges’ to put the UK at the forefront of industries of the future
Leading figures in the energy and utilities sector have welcomed this morning’s release of the Industrial Strategy White Paper. The document names ‘people’ and ‘infrastructure’, among the five foundations of productivity and commits to establishing a world class technical education system; investment in STEM and a new National Retraining Scheme.
The energy and utilities sector, which has a significant contribution to make to the ‘Infrastructure’ element of the Industrial Strategy, is encouraged by the recognition of skills as a vital strategic enabler of productivity and growth and the emphasis on government-industry partnership.
The White Paper sets out four Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. Three of these align closely with the energy and utilities sector’s interests: Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Data Economy, Clean Growth and Ageing Society. They reflect the growing importance of big data and low carbon technologies to our sector, in addition to the need to expand our talent pool across all groups and communities.
Basil Scarsella, Chair of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, said: “Investment in infrastructure and the UK’s core utility services remains a vital element in achieving the Clean Growth objective in today’s Industrial Strategy, and underpinning the UK productivity and growth aims. The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership is working across the four nations of the UK to help inform future policy and secure a resilient and sustainable workforce and future for our vital power, gas, water and waste management industries. We will now be looking in detail at the Strategy, to understand how it will bring about a coherent and coordinated UK policy environment, and enable us to bring positive progress with the recommendations”.
Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, added: “Our sector plays a vital role for the economy and society, as the largest single contributor to government plans for UK infrastructure. It is already widely accepted that for infrastructure projects, labour availability and workforce skills – the UK’s vital human capital - presents the most pressing challenge and is a significant contributing factor to cost inflation and affordability.
“It will take UK-wide policy makers, regulators, regulated businesses, delivery partners, unions and all the main interest groups to work collaboratively together, to achieve the resilience needed and meet the ambitions of this Industrial Strategy. Our offer of proactive support has already been made to the Business Secretary, and we now look forward to seeing the partnership offered in the White Paper become a reality.”
It is hoped that the development of local industrial strategies referenced in the White Paper will support sector employers as they strive to strengthen their skills base and deliver more effective workforce renewal and resilience. It is vital that a transparent and predictable skills policy environment across all four nations, flows from the Industrial Strategy, facilitating their recruitment, training and wider operational activities, including access to funding. The Strategy will be reviewed in detail as work proceeds with key stakeholders to look at how the energy and utilities sector can flourish and maximise its contribution to economic growth and productivity.
The White Paper has been expected since Theresa May’s promise to issue a revised version of the previous government strategy to improve productivity and create UK-wide opportunities.
The energy and utilities sector is the largest single contributor to the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, responsible for delivering 56% of the half a trillion pounds of investment and over 600 major projects.
The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership is a collective of 29 leading sector employers that are working together to secure the continual seamless delivery of the wider sector’s services across the UK. Together they collaborated on the Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy, which provided a coherent strategic plan for the sector that was not included in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan for Skills.
The Skills Strategy is available as a free download here.
Energy & Utility Skills is at the forefront of bringing our industry leaders together to identify and address the skills challenges our sector faces. It provides membership, assurance and skills solutions to help employers attract, develop and retain a sustainable skilled workforce to ensure the seamless delivery of essential services to 65 million people each day. It collaborates with employers to support their workforce needs and sector-wide workforce mobility. Energy & Utility Skills was the driving force behind the creation of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership.
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