The energy and utilities sector – touches the lives of over 65 million customers and citizens in the UK each and every day, providing the essential services that enable nations, regions and communities to go about their business.

In addition to that 24-hour-a-day service commitment, the gas, water, wastewater, electricity and waste management industries also form the largest single contributor towards the infrastructure ambitions of all four UK Governments.

Over half of the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan (NIDP) is attributed solely to our sector, and without the products of those investments – power, light, fresh drinking water, safe sanitation, waste removal, environmental protection and recycling – the remainder of that plan is simply unable to be delivered.

We are proud of the pivotal role we play for our customers and society and recognise our place in building the future prosperity for the UK.

To deliver our responsibilities safely and effectively at a sustainable cost, takes an exceptionally skilled and substantial workforce, the sustainability of which is under pressure. We face an ageing workforce, intense competition for many of our core skills, growing complexity within roles, a rapidly changing technology environment, a need for more diversity of skills and the people who perform them, rising labour costs, and ongoing difficulties in attracting sufficient new and young people.

The full picture will become evident as you progress further through this document, but in summary, 20% of this sector’s workforce will retire within ten years, requiring around 221,000 new recruits to be secured during the same period.

As such an important enabler of the economy and society, we recognise there is a need for collective action, and we must all face up to this strategic workforce renewal and skills challenge. I do mean all: policy makers, regulators, regulated businesses and the vital delivery partners and suppliers. Individual businesses cannot be left to manage the risks of sector resilience alone.

I am delighted to chair the partnership of industry leaders from across the UK that has decided to take action, to become the catalyst for change. This is the inaugural energy and utilities workforce and skills strategy, setting out for the first time, in one place, the reality of the challenges faced, and the ambitions we all share in moving towards achieving a more sustainable future.

This strategy seeks to start the discussion, and it will continue to evolve as we work with our key stakeholders, interest groups and other sectors to deliver an extensive programme of change and cooperation. Our partnership with
HM Treasury, central and devolved Government, and our regulators is a key part of that work and I thank them for all of the support we have received to date. It enables us to tackle common and urgent issues, where the benefits of
collaborative action are greater than any of us could achieve individually.

We are making change happen already in the relatively short time that we have been working together as a sector. Energy and utilities has become the first industry anywhere to provide graduate apprentices, through the English Trailblazer system, leading the way in terms of apprenticeship creation, developing employerled standards and building high-quality end-point assessment. We will now replicate that success to meet the needs of our partners across the devolved nations.

We have new inclusive approaches to attracting talent, bringing thousands of civilians and ex-military personnel into fresh contact with sector employers. We are looking to offer a vast spectrum of rewarding careers − careers that
genuinely and directly invest back into society, the environment and the economy.

Given the initiatives that seek to build on our commitment to rigorous health and safety, retain the talent we have attracted, bring new investment to skills development, promote the easier movement of accredited workers through ‘skills passports’, increase diversity and improve resilience. I believe this partnership has the potential to make a tangible difference to the future of this pivotal sector, and make a positive contribution to people’s lives.

Dr Tony Cocker
Chair of Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership

Notes