Skills and training

During its life, an offshore wind farm project will require the expertise and knowledge of a large number of people with a wide range of skills.

The relatively simple concept of harnessing the wind to generate electricity contrasts with the large range of issues which need to be tackled through an offshore wind farm’s development, construction and operation. These issues brings together a diverse team, including civil, mechanical and electrical engineers, fabricators, marine trades, environmental specialists as well as technical and administrative skills. This just touches the surface and the range of supporting trades and services required by the industry is diverse and extends right through the supply chain. See the RenewableUK website for further information.

The Swale Skills Centre in Sittingbourne is a flagship training centre for Kent leading the way on engineering and renewable technologies. Kent County Council has invested £2.7 million in creating a state of the art training centre providing wind industry standard workshops with specific emphasis on electrical and hydraulic systems as well as traditional engineering disciplines. In consultation with the industry, the ambition of the centre is to create an engineering centre of excellence for renewable energy. Qualifications offered cover a wide range of engineering and technician training to students aged 14-19 and above as well as opportunities for retraining and up-skilling for people with relevant skills. A partnership with DONG Energy has seen the company start a programme of technician apprenticeships being placed at the centre.

East Kent College based in Broadstairs successfully secured a grant from the Skills Funding Agency to build a new Centre for Environmental Technologies on the College campus. The new £6.5m centre was completed in 2013 and offers leading edge training to support the growth of low carbon and renewable technologies complimenting the activities at Sittingbourne. 

The Universities at Medway currently host over 10,000 students at the University of Kent, University of Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University. This represents a massive expansion in higher level education and training since university provision was established in North Kent just over a decade ago. In particular, the University of Greenwich has a well respected school of engineering offering courses in civil, marine, mechanical and electrical engineering, communications systems and engineering management.

The National Maritime Training Centre is a leading provider of maritime education and practical training. The Centre provides expert training using up to date equipment, specialist classrooms, a Fire Training Ground and Thameside Jetty. Located at North West Kent College’s Gravesend and Thameside campuses, the Centre provides flexible training opportunities for individuals and companies across the maritime industry.

Kent based company Checkmate Lifting and Safety offers specialist safety training to the offshore wind industry. The company’s dedicated height and rescue training business, HART (www.h-a-r-t.co.uk), has the skills and expertise to provide a wide range of specialist training and services for offshore renewables including working at height and confined spaces. HART is able to offer Siemens approved trainers and City & Guilds approved training courses. Based at Sheerness they have specialist training facilities at their headquarters, but can also provide on site training.

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