From the military to offshore wind

Former military personnel move into offshore wind.

Four former servicemen have started new careers in the offshore wind industry, after completing training with East Coast College as part of a Military into Offshore Wind Initiative.  

Niall Clayton, George Reeve, Zak Trainor and Calum Lockley completed their course at the college’s campus in Lowestoft and will now move into full time roles as Wind Turbine Technicians with Stowen and Certex.  

Representatives from the ECITB, Stowen, Certex and East Coast College joined the new recruits on their penultimate day on the college programme, which aims to attract those seeking a new career after serving in the armed forces into the engineering construction industry.  

Explaining the importance of the programme for the wind industry in the East of England, Matt Knights, interim head of regional operations at the ECITB, said it was one of the ways his organisation was meeting a pledge to expand entry pathways into the engineering and construction industry. 

“The Military into Offshore Wind programme is a good example of such a pathway and is a collaborative model between local employers, East Coast College and the ECITB,” he said. 

“This initiative complements the ambition of the offshore wind sector deal to facilitate the transfer of former military personnel with appropriate skills into the industry. 

“The programme is just one of the many projects in which the ECITB is attracting new entrants into the Engineering Construction Industry to address the skills gaps and forecast labour shortages across the industry.” 

Kieron Ford, business growth director at Stowen, said: “A great effort from all companies involved providing employment and using transferable skills from ex forces to offshore wind. Following this successful transition, Stowen looks forward to providing career paths for further ex-military personnel.” 

The collaborative project was co-funded by the ECITB and East Coast College through Growth Deal Funding.  

The programme syllabus includes topics ranging from health and safety to the inspection of various wind turbines. 

Ian Shaw, divisional manager, engineering services at Certex UK, said the accelerating worldwide demand for skilled labour made it essential for all service companies to invest in new people. 

In turn, the windfarm operators and owners support mentored new starters on their projects. 

“It is one of the only ways we can all help protect the future sustainability of the supply chain,” said Shaw. 

“We are privileged to have been able to participate in this programme and look forward to further developing our relationship with the ECITB and ex-forces agencies, who have provided us high calibre candidates ready to start their new careers with us.” 

Rachel Bunn, East Coast College’s skills lead for East Wind, said the programme showcased how collaboration can drive success and new career opportunities.  

“The calibre of delegates has been outstanding and I have no doubt they will excel in their chosen career,” she said. 

Knights added: “Military personnel are ideal potential employees for the offshore energy industry as they have transferable skills and can bring a wealth of knowledge from management through to problem solving. 

“We are looking to create new pathways into industry, supporting the transition of workers for net zero projects and actively promote the diversity of the workforce.” 

George Reeve, one of the new recruits who recently left the Navy, said: “I was attracted by the offshore wind sector due to the unique working environment it can offer. No two days will be the same which is something I’m already used to. 

“I see the industry as a route for me to progress in my career. This training programme is allowing me to take the first steps into the sector and into employment.”

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