Press Release for Skills for Energy

New £11m energy skills complex to go ahead
Work could start next spring on an £11million centre at Great Yarmouth to become the flagship for urgently needed energy skills training across the East of England.

Business bosses want the EPISCentre project to move on quickly to prove the region's long-term commitment to producing skilled workers for the energy industry.

It could prove vital in influencing major international companies thinking of investing billions of pounds into the offshore wind, gas and new nuclear industries.

News that the project is to go ahead delighted Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis who said the town was reaping the benefits of becoming a renewable energy hub: "The EPISCentre will be a fantastic symbol of the enthusiasm and dedication of local businesses to support the delivery of skills into the energy industry."

Blair Ainslie, chairman of the Skills for Energy partnership, part of EEEGR (the East of England Energy Group), said: "The ultimate goal is for local people to be trained locally for careers in a local industry."

First mooted two years ago, EPISCentre (Energy Production Innovation Skills Centre) is expected to cost £6m to build and will house £5m worth of equipment, much of it already pledged. The prestigious complex is expected to have conference, classroom and workshop facilities on site.

"It will co-ordinate skills training for all energy sectors and encourage and inspire individuals, schools and other interested parties to find out more about opportunities in the industry," said Mr Ainslie. "We expect it to become a national centre of excellence for energy industry skills."

He stressed that EPISCentre would complement and support existing training providers and academic and education centres - not duplicate them.

"It will be a hub at the centre of all the spokes. It is something that industry leaders are driving and we must keep up the momentum and reassure potential investors that we mean business," said Mr Ainslie, also chief executive of Seajacks UK.

Perenco UK operations manager Keith Tucker agreed that the need for skills was pressing and substantial and that EPISCentre offered a primary way to address the industry's concerns.

Although the centre will be in Great Yarmouth, the exact site has yet to be revealed. The target is to commission the complex later this year in time to start building next spring. Both private and public funding will be used for its construction.

In the meantime Skills for Energy has commissioned local consultants Nautilus Associates to review existing training provision in the region and the industry's potential needs for the future.

EPISCentre will be a nucleus for information, advice and guidance, making it easier for people to find out more about the energy industry's careers and training. It will also provide specialist courses or allow access to equipment that other trainers or colleges may not have.

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