Utilities and contractors sign skills accord
Utilities and other leading businesses in the water, gas, power and waste management industries have joined forces to launch a new Skills Accord in the House of Lords.
The accord is a voluntary, cross-industry partnership designed to address the skills gaps that threaten to undermine the future health of the UK's utility sector.
Five lead partners (Amey, National Grid, SSE, Thames Water and UK Power Networks) were central to the agreement while there were 27 participating businesses in total, including ABB, Amec Foster Wheeler, Balfour Beatty, The Clancy Group, Complete Asset Life Mgt, Costain, GE Power, IWJS, Kier Utilities, Laing O’Rourke, Lanes Group, McNicholas, Morgan Sindall, Morrison Utility Services, Murphy, MWH Treatment, Peter Duffy Ltd, RJ McLeod, Sapphire Utility Solutions, Siemens, Skanska, and T&K Gallagher Ltd.
With one fifth of the sector’s skilled workers approaching retirement age, 36% of vacancies proving hard to fill in the sector (higher than any other UK sector), and 14% of all employers reporting skills gaps within their existing workforces, an Accord was determined to be the best way for the sector's supply chain to drive sustainable skills while remaining competitive.
Administered by Energy & Utility (EU) Skills, the agreement encourages its signatories to address their current and future workforce needs by putting an increased proportion of their employees through formal structured development, either in specific skills that the sector currently requires or for which there is a demonstrable future requirement.
The agreement comprises five pledges: a formal programme of learning target of 5%; a commitment to signing up Tier 1 and 2 supply chain contractors; a commitment to embedding the Accord's principles into new tenders and contracts; a commitment to continuous improvement; and, lastly, a commitment to monitoring and publishing each company's success rate, as overseen by an external audit partner.
Kevin Fowlie, Amey's Managing Director for Utilities, commented, "We have been focused at Amey over the last few years on recruiting graduates and apprentices to address the well-known skills shortages and recruitment challenges our sector faces, but by collaborating with other organisations we have an even better chance of securing the talent and skills that we all need. We are proud to be one of the companies leading this initiative.”
Jan Ward, Chair of the Energy & Utility Skills Group, said: "This Skills Accord is one of the key priorities of the new sector partnership now underway, and I applaud these companies for testing the art of the possible and by collaborating with each other to recruit and train skilled workers, increase mobility and efficiency, widen the available talent pool and consequently bring about strategic workforce renewal."
Keith Waller, Senior Advisor at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, part of the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, which was also represented at the House of Lords launch, added, "One of the key challenges stated in the 2015 National Infrastructure Plan for Skills was how to incentivise skills investment through procurement. This requires innovative approaches to encourage the retraining and up-skilling of the workforce to meet future skills demands.
“The fact that employers within the energy and utilities sector were already working towards this remit in conjunction with Energy & Utility Skills through the management of the Procurement Skills Accord Project is very much welcomed.”
Energy & Utility Skills will be encouraging more asset owner partners to sign up to the Skills Accord and bring their supply chain on board. The energy and utilities sector is now poised to deliver its commitment to skills through the supply chain for many years to come – leading to a future sustainable workforce.
For more information, please visit http://www.euskills.co.uk/skills-accord
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