Weymouth & Portland have the highest unemployment rate in Dorset with 3.8% of working age residents claiming benefits (September 2011). Many professionals living in the District commute out of the area and even out of the county to get to their place of work, and yet many trades, including engineering, remain in short supply of trained and qualified staff. The SCA Group, working with Weymouth College, intend to help bridge these skills gaps, while at the same time re-train existing staff at SCA and other local companies, and also local jobseekers.
SCA, a local company providing access solutions to the maritime industry, supported by Weymouth College, are leading a bid for £1m of funding from the UK Commission for Education and Skills. If funding is secured, this will mean Weymouth College can train the workforce needed to build and maintain a new offshore wind farm proposed locally but also meet the needs of a whole host of other local industrial and engineering positions.
Steve King (Managing Director SCA Group) said “We are very proud to be working with Weymouth College, re-skilling our workforce and the local community. With skills shortages in various engineering roles in the renewable market, the SCA Group are delighted to play a part in re-training local people.”
It is expected that thousands of jobs will be created during construction of the proposed wind farm project, with several hundred permanent positions becoming available once operational. SCA and Weymouth College, subject to securing this available funding, will help keep the labour force local, vital to Dorset in times of high unemployment and in keeping with a wind farm’s positive environmental impact.
Kate McGoey, Employer Engagement Lead from The Renewables Training Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the UK’s leading trade association RenewableUK said “This is great news for upskilling Dorset’s workforce. The UK is leading the way in renewable energy with the creation of 1000s of jobs expected in the wind, wave and tidal industries over the next 10 years, both directly and across the wider supply chain. With a number of wind farms planned for Dorset and the surrounding counties, many specialist trades will be needed over the coming years”
Both the Local Enterprise Partnership and Portland Ports have a similar take. Dr Ross Kay (Dorset LEP’s Employment and Skills Board) said “This couldn’t come at a better time to help support Dorset’s unemployed and local businesses that are still suffering following the recession, and marine engineering and renewables are one of the key priorities for the Local Enterprise Partnership.”
Sandie Wilson, Portland Port’s Environment and Planning Manager said “Marine renewables like wind, wave and tidal are most certainly the next big thing to watch out for with the environment off Dorset and the South West coast offering a globally significant energy resource. The local area is very much in need of highly skilled and well paid jobs on an all year round basis, and we need to do everything we can to take this opportunity that the renewable industry has to offer. It is great to have something positive to look forward to that not only provides jobs but has environmental benefits too.”
Rob Jones, Vice Principal Enterprise and Employability at Weymouth College commented “The College is excited to be working on a project that could have such a positive impact on jobs in Dorset. We’re confident that by working closely with SCA, we will be able to provide people with the skills to gain meaningful employment.”
Statistics from Dorset for You, http://www.dorsetforyou.com/331625
Pictures taken 21st December 2012 at initial bid planning meeting:
Rob Jones, Vice Principal from Weymouth College
Sandie Wilson, Environment and Planning Manager and Steve King, Managing Director of the SCA Group