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Major step forward in East Anglian energy skills centre project as doors to interim site set to open in July

PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:08 14 May 2014

Skills for Energy's Celia Anderson

Skills for Energy's Celia Anderson

Archant

Industry bosses and politicians have hailed a major step forward in getting local people into energy industry jobs with the doors on a temporary training centre set to open in July.

Minerva House in Gorleston will be used to get the Skills for Energy EPISCentre project off the ground, with plans for the more permanent £11m EPIS centre for training still being finalised.

Blair Ainslie, the initiative chairman, who is also managing director of Great Yarmouth energy firm Seajacks, said the project would encourage international windpower, gas and new nuclear companies to think about investing in the region.

The announcement was made at a reception for business leaders in Westminster today.

Celia Anderson, EEEGR executive director who is heading the EPISCentre project, said the interim plan would be in place until the flagship building was complete,

She said that after arguing the case for so long, it was time to demonstrate the need.

Mr Ainslie said: “EPISCentre is a project of national significance but the emphasis in on helping local people into local jobs in an industry with a major and long-term future in this region.”

The EPISCentre project will start initially from the Minerva House, which is owned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and the building near the home of EEEEGR, the East of England Energy Group, at Beacon Park, Gorleston.

The new warehouse, which will have industrial equipment to support training, is expected to open early next year.

Seb Duncan, director for resources, governance and growth at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the use of the council-owned Minerva House would enable the EPISCentre to get off the ground more quickly, with none of the risks associated with constructing a new building.

“The Great Yarmouth borough is a UK capital for the energy industry, known throughout the world, so it makes absolute sense to have a local centre of excellence to enable firms to provide specialist training to staff, rather than having to send them out of the region.

“The EPISCentre has the potential to encourage more energy firms to relocate to or expand in the borough, growing the local economy – and also offers the opportunity to further up-skill the local population and thus boost employment opportunities.

“By making Minerva House available, the borough council is facilitating the EPISCentre in the short- to medium-term, but will continue to work alongside the East of England Energy Group and other partners to find a more permanent base.”

Initially the centre will provide training rooms as well as offices and meeting rooms. The focus will be on technical training, while also ensuring the provision of commercial and softer skills.

Skills for Energy has also launched a training brokerage so the industry can coordinate training.

The idea is to help companies reduce the costs of travel and accommodation and boost business for training providers already serving the region.

Small companies will also be able to use EPISCentre to find out about particular types of training and what funding is about available.

There will also be introduction courses for non-technical people in or associated with the industry.

Skills for Energy has been working with Lowestoft College and West Suffolk College to launch Introduction courses to energy, oil & gas, nuclear and offshore wind, with the first bookings already taken.

And, there will be a range of bite-sized chunks of training in areas like leadership and management, IT, and social media, for people in a hurry.

“We are working with the main education and training providers in the East of England to become world class and do more to tell the industry about its capacity and capability,” said Ms Anderson

“Through the Energy Skills Network of the main education providers from sixth form colleges through to universities, we work to ensure that they produce people that are highly employable and can be as productive as possible from the outset.“

Also launched will be a new Skills for Energy website, responding to the need to make information available to a much wider range of people within and outside the industry.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “I am delighted we have now secured the centre that we have all work on for the last few years. With the good news of our unemployment fall of now 27pc locally this is another great asset for Great Yarmouth to help develop the skills we need for local jobs linked to the energy industry for the future, securing opportunities for local people in local work with locally developed skills.”

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