JDR Cables: How Today's Workforce can Help Treble Highly Skilled Jobs by 2030
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02 March 2020
This article was originally published in leading industry magazine, Subsea UK News
by Vicki Ashton, Strategic Resourcing and Talent Manager for JDR Cable Systems, part of TFKable Group
Earlier this year, the UK’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal set ambitious targets to treble highly-skilled jobs from 7,200 today, to 27,000 by 2030. Whose job is it to find the workers we’ll need, and when?
Developing a highly skilled workforce is a long-term investment. That is partly why the UK Government has set out such an ambitious target for offshore wind jobs over a decade in advance. Collectively it will take our industry the best part of that decade to achieve this.
Raising the flag for apprenticeships
A critical enabler to a sustainable talent pipeline is attracting bright and enthusiastic apprentices, which makes good relationships with education centres essential.
Every initiative needs to inform, inspire and educate. One of the best ways to learn what works is to knowledge-share with your peer group. Among the most memorable experiences for a student is to be taken through an entire project lifecycle from the design phase, all the way through to decommissioning. An initiative like that requires the involvement of the end-to-end supply chain. Networks regionally and nationally are also important, whether it’s a local working group or an initiative like the National STEM Ambassador scheme.
Plotting a course for success
In the past JDR, has focused on practical initiatives for students, inviting hundreds of students to take part in activities, like interactive fact-finding missions and math challenges to solve design engineering problems.
More recently, we involved our supply chain partners with demonstrations of virtual reality training, so students saw what it’s like to visit an offshore wind farm. The feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive. Maintaining the momentum helps us to do more, reach more children and work with more partners.
Ready the crew
Attracting a new workforce relies on your existing workforce to help bring them in, so internal and external promotion of STEM initiatives is vital to spread enthusiasm and good will. At JDR, I am lucky that my colleagues regularly go above and beyond their everyday roles; volunteering their expertise to engage with students and to attract potential apprentices, graduates and workers from other industries.
STEM Ambassadors, typically ex-graduates and apprentices are indispensable in providing a personal view on careers in our industry. Students can ask them questions a career adviser would simply not have the experience to answer.
Keeping one’s bearings
In the early stages of an outreach programme, the target seems distant. You invest in making a memorable experience of an afternoon, a day, a week, with little prospect of ever seeing those students again. That makes it all the more worthwhile when you hear a story of that early engagement paying off. I recently met a student who attended our 2016 STEM event. They were inspired to study for a level 2 engineering qualification at College and then applied for an apprenticeship in offshore wind. I was stunned that a student was still living the impact of that day – there’s no greater recognition than that.
The horizon and beyond
2019 has been a turning point for us, and is reflective of the direction of our industry; this year we’ve taken on twelve apprentices, including five graduates, our biggest ever intake. With a clear target we recognise that now is the time to be investing in our talent pipeline.
While apprenticeships are about technical skills and industry standards, they’re also about making connections with people. Whether that’s through STEM events, work experience placements, apprenticeships, graduate roles or professional career development, everyone at every organisational level has a part to play in developing the highly skilled, diverse workforce we need for 2030.