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From the dole to £40k in three months: What's on offer in the offshore industry

PUBLISHED: 13:41 04 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 04 October 2019

Graham Hacon, 3Sun chief executive, with Michael Montgomery, 40,  the first career-switch technicians to join 3sun Group. Picture: James Bass

Graham Hacon, 3Sun chief executive, with Michael Montgomery, 40, the first career-switch technicians to join 3sun Group. Picture: James Bass

James Bass

Sixteen people have seen their lives transformed after going from unemployed to earning £40,000 in three months - with no prior experience.

The group have been entirely trained, for free, by Great Yarmouth-based 3sun.

They have been taught how to service offshore windfarms on the 12-week course which was worth £10,000 a piece.

The group are all now qualified technicians, with some earning £40,000 depending on the shifts they work.

MORE: How the East of England is building an offshore wind empire

One of the new technicians, Ben Kirchell, described the turbine inspection training as "life-changing."

He said: "I've gone from being unemployed after drifting through dead end jobs and working in fast food to being skilled and having a career in an industry close to home that is just growing and growing with work ahead for decades.

"I can't believe my luck and was thrilled to get my first pay. The industry is here on our doorsteps and I can see how I can progress."

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Since March 2019, Mr Kirchell has worked on the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm (GGOWF), off Lowestoft and had two sessions at Burbo Bank, off Liverpool and is now heading to Barrow-in-Furness.

His colleague Ricki Western was one of the first to be employed by 3sun after being made redundant in the oil and gas industry.

Likewise, Gwynn Evans was told he had landed the job on his 38th birthday - after being unemployed for six months.

"There are times when we can't get enough technicians. We have the work but it's becoming increasingly difficult, as the opportunities expand to find the right people," said 3Sun chief executive Graham Hacon.

"The flow of candidates from the Offshore Wind Skills Centre straight into jobs proves the sector simply can't get enough people at the moment.

"We have taken on 16 so far. There needs to be a coherent strategy with support from the government and the industry to carry the financial burden of funding training and a clear strategy to provide enough trained people."

Mr Hacon is hoping to futureproof skills in the region by having talks with former energy minister Claire Perry and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis.

He said: "We were part of the consortium to set up the Offshore Wind Skills Centre because of the long pipeline of work and the need to produce properly trained people, not just in the east of England but around the UK and Europe."

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