£1.5m skills fund launched by Dong Energy in the region

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 7 Jul 2017

DONG Energy has launched a new £1.5 million Skills Fund. 

It forms part of the offshore wind giant’s East Coast Community Fund, and will be an annual commitment of £75,000. 

A total of £55,000 will be available through an open application process to experienced organisations that can develop and deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related training or education courses, a one-off event, or a programme of targeted events. 

The full £55,000 may be awarded to one organisation, or split between a number of groups that apply. The minimum grant organisations can apply for is £10,000, and the closing date for applications is September 14.

A further £20,000 will be targeted at four colleges within the fund’s coastal area of benefit, and will be used as a bursary to help finance local students who are unable to access traditional funding streams for support. 

Natasha Nanuck, Dong Energy’s stakeholder advisor, said “We are really pleased to launch the Skills Fund which will commit £75,000 each year for 20 years to help to improve local skills and employment opportunities. This is just part of Dong Energy’s £9.3 million investment for community and environmental projects in coastal areas of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Norfolk over the next two decades.”

It follows the offshore wind technician apprenticeship scheme with Grimsby Institute, for which there have been 550 applications so far, and the Teach First charity initiative, aimed at addressing educational inequalities in the Humber and Mersey regions where Dong operates.

Welcoming today's launch, Marc Doyle, principal at Scunthorpe's Humber UTC, said: “Humber UTC is a school that specialises in engineering and renewables, so we’re very encouraged to see Dong Energy launch their skills fund. It is testament to the talent in the region that a local employer like Dong is reinvesting in the future and providing opportunities to organisations and individuals in STEM fields to grow long term.”

Trevor Wray, principal at Franklin College, said: “Today’s news regarding the Dong Energy Skills Fund is exceptionally good news for North East Lincolnshire and will help the region develop the skills and infrastructure necessary to assist young people in the area to develop the higher level skills required for them to enter the renewables industry.  
“Franklin College has many young people with the skills and ability to become exceptional employees and with this kind of initiative we can work together with industry experts to develop a first class workforce for the future.”

David Talbot, chief executive at Catch, sits on the UTC board. He added: “The Skills Fund is a great example of the commitment that Dong is showing to the region.  The Humber is the Energy Estuary, and by working with companies like Dong we have the opportunity to develop our own people to support the burgeoning offshore wind energy sector’s need for skilled employees. Catch supports the region with skills development programmes for the process, engineering, energy and renewables sectors and this funding is exactly what is needed to help organisations like ours to inspire the next generation of skilled employees.  
“Young people in the region need to be able to see a route to employment in offshore wind and Dong is sending out the right message by engaging with, and supporting, organisations such as our schools - including the industry-led Humber UTC - local colleges and Catch.”

The Skills Fund launches after a visit from Grimsby's John Whitgift Academy to the Race Bank construction base in Port of Grimsby East. It was part of the three-year partnership with charity Teach First.

The 25-strong group heard about the growing offshore wind industry and what goes into building an offshore wind farm, before taking a tour of the site. They finished with a session on transferable skills and CV-writing.

Matt Bee, assistant principal of John Whitgift Academy, said: “It’s invaluable that pupils get real world experience and that they learn about the potential routes into workplaces, such as the apprenticeships that Dong offers.”

Natasha, a Year Nine pupil, said: “My favourite part was seeing the vessel and learning about what it’s used for and where it’s from.”

Year 10’s Kieran-Lee said: “I liked learning about what I could do after leaving school and apprenticeships, and about what I could do in the future in the world of engineering, as I want to work in this industry. I also enjoyed learning about what jobs need more people and meeting lovely volunteers.”

The relationship with the Willows Estate secondary school will continue into the summer when two pupils will undertake work experience, spending a week at the construction site followed by a week at the marine and helicopter co-ordination centre on Royal Dock.

Rob Howes, learning and development specialist at Dong Energy, said: “Investing in the Humber is more than just financial investment for us, it’s about investing in education for young people to develop future engineers and a skilled workforce.

“For school leavers, our new apprentice scheme has had an overwhelming number of applications from people in the local area already, and our partnership with Teach First targets younger pupils, developing strong relationships with local schools to show young people the range of high quality, skilled jobs that are available right here in Grimsby.”

The East Coast Community Fund is part of the community engagement programme for Dong Energy’s Hornsea Project One and Race Bank offshore wind farms, which are located off the Humber approaches, with electricity brought ashore in Lincolnshire and North Norfolk. Combined they will be capable of providing enough energy for over one and a half million homes.

The fund is being administered by the independent grant-making charity GrantScape. For further information about the fund and how to apply for a grant, visit www.grantscape.org.uk or call them on 01908 247634.

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