Lowestoft Energy Skills Centre will secure jobs for generations
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Energy leaders hailed the prospect of jobs for generations to come as the turf was cut for an £11.4m energy skills centre.
The facility, which is being built at East Coast College's Lowestoft campus, aims to attract students from across the UK to East Anglia as well as targeting job creation in the region.
It could also be used by energy supply chain companies for events and to retrain existing staff for the jobs of the future.
Ian Pease, East Coast College's director of commercial development, said: 'Our ultimate aim is to create skills that will benefit the local community and give them a great opportunity to take advantage of.
'There will be a focus on maintenance engineering as we look forward to creating a world class training schedule.
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'During this next stage we are keen to make sure jobs created go to local people.'
He added: 'The industry wants great facilities available locally and that is what we can provide. Instead of sending employees to facilities in Aberdeen they can send them to us.'
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While the offshore energy market has been struggling over the past few years with a downturn in the oil price there is hope for the future.
New tight gas fields have been discovered in the South North Sea, which can be accessed from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, and these will require different skills sets and technology to extract.
Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), said the college would link with other facilities around the country such as the Aberdeen Institute of Energy as well as companies with local operations to support job growth.
Mr Gray said: 'The life of wind farms is 30 to 50 years.
'Maintenance engineering training will provide jobs for two or three generations of local workers.'
Securing the centre, which has been granted £10m funding by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, is a coup for the newly formed East Coast College.
The college was founded in April as a partnership between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Colleges.
The Lowestoft campus already runs maritime and offshore courses and the skills centre, which is scheduled to open in December 2018, will add to the offer.