In an effort to make sure that the skills needed for the imminent offshore renewable energy industry will be available, renewable energy developers have begun teaming up with schools and communities in the North East of England.
Forewind, a consortium of RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil, which is a development partner for the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm zone, has launched a programme for schools that will support teachers to develop classroom resources about the job opportunities that will be available for their students in the locality in offshore wind power.
Graduate schools are also capitalising opportunities provided by offshore renewable energy. Some prestigious universities and online graduate degree programmesare now offering programs with offshore windpower as the main focus.
Stephen Logan, ICT and business studies teacher at Malet Lambert school in east Hull, said: "It is crucial young people are aware of the career opportunities in the area. It will raise aspiration and ambition and give them the opportunity to see what they can do.
"The offshore wind and renewables industry could have a massive impact on this area and it could be their future career for a decade or 20 years."
Forewind's general manager, Lee Clarke, said the schools, from Scarborough in the north to Withernsea in the south, are in the area where the first proposed offshore wind farms are planned to connect with the national grid.
Dr Clarke said: "It made sense for us to focus on the area around the onshore infrastructure for our first development – Dogger Bank Creyke Beck – to ensure the nearby community is aware of the potential opportunities offshore wind may bring."
The project, called the Champions For Wind careers education programme, was launched last week at conference in Hull with speakers from Forewind, The Crown Estate and Renewable UK and the Humberside Engineering Training Association (Heta).
The teachers are enthusiastic. Sarah Bone, deputy head teacher at Hessle High School, said: "I want to raise awareness and aspirations about what the industry can offer. The industry is facing problems that there aren't yet solutions for and our students could be the ones to come up with them."