Energy scheme set to be rolled out nationally

A local initiative to provide young people with skills needed to work in the energy industry is to be rolled out nationally.

The Energy Skills Foundation Programme, launched two years ago at Lowestoft College and funded this year by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, has been formally accredited and will now be offered by other colleges in England and Wales.

The programme is a Skills for Energy initiative supported by a wide range of companies and training organisations, including the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and Cogent.

Based at the Beacon Innovation Centre, Great Yarmouth, and supported by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), Skills for Energy was set up to bridge the energy skills gaps and shortages in the region.

Dug Harrison, regional account manager of the ECITB, said, 'This is now going to be a national programme and that's a real feather in the cap of the East of England.'

Speaking at a dinner to celebrate the conclusion of the second 12-month programme, he told the 11 students who had completed it that their hard work and dedication had made the course a true success.

John Sewell, operations manager of Perenco UK, who championed the programme, said: 'The fact that this programme will now be offered nationally is testimony to the commitment of energy companies and training organisations to introducing new blood into our industry.'

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Mr Sewell presented the student of the year award to Andrew Woods, 22, of Bradwell, who he said had shown himself to be an effective team player who always took his share of the workload without hogging the limelight.

Andrew said he had enjoyed learning about different aspects of the energy industry, from wind power to nuclear, and was hoping to secure either a technician post or an apprenticeship to continue his training.

Student of the year runner-up was Zack Boast, 17, of Bradwell, who received his prize from Terry Rooke, head of technical support and projects at Shell UK, while the award for project of the year was presented to Jordan Harrison, 17, of Great Yarmouth, by Sid Anverali, finance director of CLS Offshore.

The other successful students were Nathan Seyforth, Alex Armes, Tom Rodger, Josh Tennant, James Miasek, Joel Clements, Ryan Johnson and Zak Brown. They received a certificate and trophy from Peter Wright, economic development officer of Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Mr Wright said the council had been pleased to fund the programme in its second year to help increase employability in the borough.

The course, which provides hands-on experience in relevant skills, was designed with employers to help young people to decide on a career in energy and to help them gain an Advanced Apprenticeship with a company.

James Murdoch, director of education and qualifications at Cogent Sector Skills Council, said apprentices were highly beneficial to employers, paying back a company's investment with high levels of productivity. And studies had shown that apprentices would subsequently earn more than others entering the industry.

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