EPISCentre to Produce Skilled Energy Workers from July

EPISCentre to Produce Skilled Energy Workers from July

A new skills centre to become the focal point for world class energy skills training in the East of England is to be launched in the Great Yarmouth borough in July.

EPISCentre to Produce Skilled Energy Workers from July

The EPISCentre project will start initially from the Minerva House building near the home of EEEEGR, the East of England Energy Group, at Beacon Park, Gorleston.

This has been made possible thanks to an agreement with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which owns Minerva House and is working to support the growth of the borough’s energy sector and wider economy.

It is an interim move while plans for an £11m purpose-built flagship building are finalised.  A new warehouse with industrial equipment to support the training is expected to open early next year.

The Skills for Energy team’s decision to speed up progress is to emphasise the region’s long-term commitment to producing skilled workers for the energy industry and to demonstrate the urgent need for the facility.

Details were announced at a House of Commons reception on May 13, when 200 delegates from EEEGR met Ministers and MPs to remind them of the importance of the East of England to the international energy industry and UK power supplies.

“It has taken a while but it’s fantastic news that that the EPISCentre project is on the move,” said Blair Ainslie, chairman of Skills for Energy, which is part of EEEGR. “We know how pressing the need is to generate more skilled workers for the industry and an outstanding asset like this will help encourage major international companies to think of investing in this region, whether in windpower, gas or new nuclear sectors.

“EPISCentre is a project of national significance but the emphasis in on helping local people into local jobs in an industry with a major and long-term future in this region,” said Mr Ainslie, also managing director of Seajacks UK, which is based in Great Yarmouth.

Celia Anderson, EEEGR executive director, heading the EPISCentre project, said: “Working closely with enterprise agency NWES and Great Yarmouth Borough Council, we will have an EPISCentre (Energy Production Innovation Skills Centre) operational in July and the warehouse facility needed for the industrial equipment operational in early 2015. It will be an interim plan until we have the flagship building but we have been arguing the case for so long that it is now time to demonstrate the need.  The public sector has pulled out the stops to make it happen.” 

Seb Duncan, the director for resources, governance and growth at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “The use of the borough council-owned Minerva House as the starting base for the EPISCentre enables this essential training facility to get off the ground more quickly, with none of the risks associated with constructing a new building.

“The Great Yarmouth borough is a UK capital for the energy industry, known throughout the world, so it makes absolute sense to have a local centre of excellence to enable firms to provide specialist training to staff, rather than having to send them out of the region.

“The EPISCentre has the potential to encourage more energy firms to relocate to or expand in the borough, growing the local economy – and also offers the opportunity to further up-skill the local population and thus boost employment opportunities.

“By making Minerva House available, the borough council is facilitating the EPISCentre in the short- to medium-term, but will continue to work alongside the East of England Energy Group and other partners to find a more permanent base.” 

Initially the centre will provide training rooms as well as offices and meeting rooms for skills providers. The focus will be on technical training while also ensuring the provision of commercial and softer skills.

Press Release, May 15, 2014; Image: EEEGR