Today, the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership launches its 2020-2025 Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy. Here, Barry McNicholas, group managing director for Kier Utilities & Rail explains why it is essential that the industry unite and attract a talented, resilient and sustainable workforce.

“Every single day, our sector delivers vital services to households across the UK. The average person uses 142 litres of water and 8.5 – 10 kWh of electricity every single day and with 87% of people using the internet daily, our services are constantly in demand and what we do fundamentally helps keep people connected.  

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been more important than ever that we have been there to support and serve communities. Our works were deemed essential by the Government and our teams have carried out emergency works – often not seen – but working tirelessly to make sure homes across the UK have been able to function.

During this time, we’ve had to adapt to new ways of working with new social distancing measures and site operating procedures to adhere to. It’s naturally led to a time of reflection on best practice, with new ideas for operational excellence coming to the forefront and generally all of us looking at different, constructive and new ways of working.

COVID-19 has made us all stop and focus on the future and what we want the world to look like. There is a sense of urgency to look at how and what we are doing and it’s about carrying out our works in a sustainable way with a resilient workforce that better reflects the communities we serve.

It is well-known that we have an ageing workforce and now is the time where we must look to attract the talent of tomorrow in to our sector. What we do is of national importance and as an industry we must continue to strive for diverse workforces – bringing together talented, passionate and dedicated individuals to initiate, inspire and innovate.

Right now, there are innovations being carried out across the networks; using new methods, machinery and technology. For example, we are trialling fibre optic technology on a water network, which not only detects leaks in a way that is more efficient than traditional methods, but it can also identify where leaks could occur. This has the potential to revolutionise a part of the water industry and with that it will bring wide-ranging benefits – saving water, being more efficient with operational delivery and minimising disruption to communities.

A career within our sector won’t disappoint – simply, it is full of opportunity and the ability to leave a lasting impression.  

That’s why we are proud to partner with the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, an organisation that is committed to addressing the skills gap. It’s anticipated that we will need 277,000 new workers over the next 10 years – this cannot be achieved without the industry working together.

Through the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, the industry is united, from regulators, clients, contractors, and more – we are in this together. The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership has defined a skills strategy for the next five years and goes a long way in looking to attracting a diverse, creative and resilient workforce. There are three key strategies in place;

1. Sector Attractiveness, Recruitment and Workforce Diversity

Reflect the population that the sector workforce serves. Inspire the next generation.

2. Maximising investment in skills

Deliver the skills we need. Build public recognition of the sector.

3. Targeted action

Support a successful UK economy. Contribute to a sustainable and resilient UK.

In my whole career, I have never felt such a sense of urgency – to build for a greener future and trial new ways of working. To achieve this, we must inspire a new generation of talent to consider a career within our industry. It’s now or never to build a workforce that can deliver our aspirations for tomorrow.”

For more information on the Energy & Utility Skills Partnership, click here


Related content