Equinor closing offshore wind skills gaps in East of England through new Apprenticeship Levy transfer initiative
Diverse initial cohort of 8-10 apprentices from local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in East of England will benefit from Equinor's Apprenticeship Levy transfer and begin upskilling in Autumn 2022.
In collaboration with East Coast College’s Energy Skills Centre for the pilot programme, Equinor is advancing a novel approach to skills development in the Norfolk region through the transfer of its UK Apprenticeship Levy to continuing preparing the next generation of offshore wind talent.
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.
Having identified skills gaps in Norfolk and the East of England around its existing Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms and proposed extension projects, Equinor will partner with local training providers such as East Coast College to help close these skills gaps through apprenticeship cohorts from SMEs operating in Norfolk and the East of England.
Equinor’s Apprenticeship Levy transfer will directly support local SMEs seeking to advance or build new capabilities to prepare for further work within the offshore wind industry in Norfolk, with the first class of apprentices expected to start in Autumn 2022.
This innovative programme is also a collaboration with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) and will directly support NALEP’s ‘Developing Skills for Growth’ initiative, which aims to support economic development while improving the life chances of people from all NALEP communities.
Inquiries to East Coast College will be opened in June 2022, with preference given to supply chain SMEs working within or seeking to enter the offshore wind sector. Equinor will cover the full cost of the apprentices’ education, with the initial cohort in Norfolk expected to bolster their competences in project management, which is a skillset with an identified shortage in the region.
Future cohorts of apprentices in Norfolk are anticipated and will be delivered through Equinor’s collaboration with East Coast College and other regional training providers.
Trine Borum Bojsen, Equinor’s SVP for North Sea Renewables said:
“We are delighted to have identified this pioneering opportunity to stimulate local skills development in Norfolk, through the transfer of our UK Apprenticeship Levy. Norfolk continues to be core to Equinor’s North Sea offshore wind footprint and with further activity expected through our Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon extension projects, the need for continuous competency development in the region is becoming more critical. We are proud to partner with East Coast College for this initial cohort of Norfolk-based apprentices and are keen to continue developing a diverse and capable workforce of the future.”
Susan Falch-Lovesey, East of England Stakeholder Manager for Equinor said:
“Through collaboration with local SMEs and leading regional training providers such as East Coast College, Equinor is able to scale the offshore wind skills development agenda with this pilot cohort of apprentices in Norfolk and the East of England. This step change in Apprenticeship Levy transfer is indicative of Equinor’s commitment to leading on the holistic development of local supply chains in the UK. I’m pleased that Norfolk and Suffolk will be first to benefit from a pilot that, if expanded, could lead to substantial skills improvements across the UK. Transferring Levy at a cohort scale to our local SMEs and in partnership with our valued training establishments is a straightforward win-win.”
Julia Bates, East Coast College’s Deputy Principal for Curriculum and Development said:
“East Coast College is excited to be working with Equinor in supporting effective levy share for the regional supply chain. The college already delivers over 700 apprenticeships and strives to continue to develop critical regional skills. This opportunity will provide the region in providing the Level 4 apprenticeship standard in Project Management within the growing supply chain. The levy share model can be an effective way to drive skills in region and this cohort builder model will shape the way for further work in the energy sector and wider supply chain.”
Natasha Waller, Skills Manager at NALEP said:
“Recruiting apprentices is a very positive way to grow talent and develop a motivated and skilled workforce. Apprentices can bring diversity to your workforce as well as offer fantastic opportunities for businesses to upskill and retrain staff and offer great learning opportunities for new employees. Levy sharing is a good way to support your supply chain and people in your communities. We encourage more businesses to follow this lead and thus grow apprenticeship numbers.”
Equinor has been part of the Norfolk community for over a decade through its operated Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, which produce enough renewable electricity to power around 710,000 UK homes.
Equinor is also, on behalf of its partners, maturing the proposed Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon extension projects (SEP and DEP). SEP and DEP will double the capacity of the existing Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, providing renewable energy to power an additional 820,000 UK homes and making an important contribution to the UK’s decarbonisation goals.
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