Claims of “invisible barrier” for women in offshore energy sector after 3sun attracts no female applicants for 100 technician jobs

Jennifer Cushion, director of Fern Communications in Lowestoft. The firm is part of the SCORE projec

Jennifer Cushion, director of Fern Communications in Lowestoft. The firm is part of the SCORE project to enourage more investment in the offshore energy sector. Picture: TMS Media - Credit: TMS Media

An industry body helping to develop East Anglia's offshore energy sector has said an 'invisible barrier' is stopping women taking roles after one company's recruitment drive saw no females in 1,500 applications.

Emma Bishop, chairman of the Women's Energy Network. Picture: WEM

Emma Bishop, chairman of the Women's Energy Network. Picture: WEM - Credit: Archant

Enterprise agency Nwes, which leads the £6m SCORE grant programme encouraging innovation and technology development in offshore renewables, is concerned at the lack of women working in and entering the green energy sector.

It comes after a recent recruiting drive by Great Yarmouth-based 3sun Group for 100 new technician jobs saw no female applicants.

As the country marks International Women's Day, SCORE (Supply Chain Innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy) has said it is keen to ensure women are getting as involved as possible with the expanding industry.

Project manager Rob Bush said: 'We need to encourage women, starting from GCSE and A-Level, to get involved in engineering. They are studying the subjects, but they are finding other sectors more attractive when it comes to employment.

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'There is no reason for that. There are no barriers, other than an invisible one in an offshore energy sector which has traditionally been dominated by men from the days of oil and gas.'

Graham Hacon, chief executive of 3sun Group, said the recruitment drive asked for applicants with electrical and mechanical qualifications.

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'We were disappointed not to receive any female applicants. Wind is an exciting, new and fast- growing industry in our region, offering multiple opportunities for women here and abroad. We would like to see a far more balanced workforce.'

Electronics engineer Jennifer Cushion, a director at Lowestoft-based Fern Communications, which makes radio systems for offshore wind farms, encouraged women to join the offshore renewables industry, adding: 'The jobs and opportunities are varied and exciting and as with any new industry getting involved at the start will allow you to grow and develop your career as the industry grows and matures.'

East Anglian business group Women's Energy Network (WEN) is also concerned at the low numbers of females in the sector – as few as 4% in offshore positions.

Chairwoman Emma Bishop from Hemsby said a lack of knowledge and misconceptions about careers in the energy industry had historically held women back from aiming to work in and progressing in the different technology sectors.

'We are working with schools and colleges to demonstrate the diverse range of opportunities in energy to encourage more young women to aspire for careers.'

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