What follows relates to Scotland and the Humber, but could be repeated in many, many places.
Talking to a guy who trains people to transport wind turbines from port to final location, he made the comment that most of the training he does is outside the UK – Denmark, Germany, Spain, even South Africa. He will train a group of Danes, say, and three months later, he will run into them in Inverness or Aberdeen or Ayrshire.
Support boats for the offshore wind industry sail out of Grimsby. It is very difficult to get a seat on KLM’s Sunday flights to Humberside Airport and on the flights out of Humberside on a Friday. Why? Because at least half of the crews of the boats do not come from the UK. I seem to remember that not very long ago Hull & Grimsby were major fishing ports. Are the skills needed so different?
In our view, the issue is one of short sighted local and national government action. Both have a lot of people working on economic regeneration and funding is made available. However, by their nature, these organisations are risk averse. So, in order to make sure that they don’t take the risk of training people for jobs that might not occur, they wait until the jobs are advertised and demand is certain. Consequently, there are few local people available with the right skills when, say, a wind turbine company starts operating (usually with substantial government support). The company won’t wait for people to be trained, so they recruit from where there are trained people.
The result is economic regeneration that creates jobs, but local people can’t access them. Some might call that short sighted. Others might suggest that creating international standard training facilities, such as simulator based Skills Capacity Building Centres, that can train and re-train people very quickly, might be a very useful economic regeneration project?