UK offshore wind jobs could grow to 100,000 by 2030

Jobs in the UK offshore wind industry could grow to almost 100,000 by 2030 from more than 31,000 currently, according to a new report published today by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC).

The 'UK Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence Report' said the 31,000 figure is a 16% increase on the 26,000 jobs reported in last year’s survey.

It said that there are 19,600 are direct jobs solely in offshore wind and 11,500 are indirect positions in supply chain companies that manufacture products for theindustry as well as goods for other sectors.

The report added that 30% of the jobs are in Scotland, and the English region benefitting most is Yorkshire and The Humber, where 15% of the jobs are located.

The study estimated that by 2030, the industry will employ over 97,000 people in the UK (61,000 direct jobs and 36,000 indirect).

The report states that between 2022 and 2030, the industry will see £155bn (€181bn) of private investment in new offshore wind projects, taking the average annual spend to over £17bn a year.

This is higher than the level of private investment reported last year, which showed an average annual spend of just over £10bn.

The report said the increases reflect the enormous expansion of the UK’s total pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development over the past 12 months, which now stands at 86GW, a 60% increase.

Another factor is the move to annual auctions for Contracts for Difference, which previously were held every two years, to speed up the transition to renewable power and boost the UK’s energy security.

The study also shows that the percentage of women working in offshore wind has increased slightly from 18% reported a year ago to 19.25%.

Apprentices make up 2% of the workforce, an increase of just 0.2% on a year ago due mainly to the impact of the pandemic, taking the industry closer towards its target of 2.5%.

The report also highlighted the need to address the risk of recruitment gaps by introducing measures to increase the number of people with high-level electrical and digital skills entering this innovative sector, to meet current and future demand.

OWIC’s People & Skills workstream is led by RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn (pictured).

She said: “The UK offshore wind industry is a powerhouse for job creation. I’ve seen at first hand the way that my home town of Grimsby is being transformed by this dynamic sector which is bringing billions of private sector investment into coastal communities up and down the country.

“This report shows that we’re making rapid progress in seizing the economic benefits of the Green Industrial Revolution, and that we’ll need to continue to grow fast to ensure that we meet the government’s target of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 - a fivefold increase in our current capacity.

“That’s why it’s important for industry and Government to work together to address skills shortages in areas like electrical engineering and data analysis, so we can boost the number of high-quality green jobs in offshore wind throughout this decade.”

OWIC co-chair and Vattenfall UK country manager Danielle Lane said: “The government’s Energy Security Strategy puts offshore wind at the heart of our future green energy system.

“We’re working closely with Ministers to pull out all the stops so that we can built vital new green energy infrastructure projects as swiftly as possible to boost Britain’s energy independence.

“Attracting a diverse range of talented people into this sector is the key to accelerating our transition to home-grown clean power.”

UK Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “This report demonstrates the extraordinary potential of renewable energy to create jobs, drive investment and secure cheaper, clean electricity.

“We have ambitious plans to go even further as the UK becomes a global renewable energy powerhouse.”

Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Charlotte Stamper said: “Today’s UK Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence Report shows almost a third (30%) of the country’s offshore wind jobs are in Scotland.

“Recent announcements saw 25GW of projects awarded leases to develop in Scottish waters, up from just 1GW today.

“The benefits to Scottish communities which stem from this will be transformational: projects which were recently awarded seabed leases have committed to invest in Scotland – and specifically in supply chain businesses – on a scale never seen before, in any industry.

“This investment will deliver tens of thousands of skilled jobs, allow Scottish firms to compete in the global offshore wind market and revitalise communities from the Borders to the islands.”