Improving skills base is 'the biggest challenge we face'

MHI Vestas CEO and WindEurope chairman Philippe Kavafyan outlines what the wind energy industry will need from its workforce in the coming years

Philippe Kavafyan's briefing to industry leaders and specialists, and key EU policymakers at the launch of the WindEurope report highlighted wind power's requirements for engineers, technicians and support staff.

“It is the biggest challenge we face," he said. "My job didn’t exist when I graduated. It was some time ago, but even a few years ago, no one would have expected such an exponential growth of our sector.

“Not just wind, but the rest of our infrastructure initiatives that we need for this energy transition in Europe.”

Increased demand will create future jobs with roles and skills that we cannot currently define, he said.

“We need to make sure the message is conveyed at every level of the educational system. We need to educate children to picture the world of tomorrow, to make sure that [when we are thinking about] apprenticeships we do not forget there are so many technical jobs that are being created in our sector," he said.

“Of course, we need to continue to support innovation all the way up to advanced research, to continue the effort to attract and direct all the talent. We don’t need one specific set of skills, we have a broad range of situations, from biodiversity, all the way to infrastructure, logistics, technical but also service activities are driving a very wide range of skills," he said.

“We talk about an exponential demand for skills and talent. Practically speaking, in a college in the northeast of Scotland, we are in a position where we can take young people and put them in a one-year rotation.

"So they can hands-on, and get really accustomed to what it is to not only service a wind turbine, but also what it is like for service technicians going offshore, along with the logistics and safety culture that it comes with it. We need to focus on the massive and wide demand for talent that we need to attract into the new jobs of the energy transition.”