Cardiff Capital Region is on the cusp of a critical energy transformation.
The race to net zero presents a multitude of opportunities to build a cleaner, greener and sustainable energy future, for every community in South East Wales – with Hydrogen predicted to be at the heart of that transformation.
This clean low-carbon gas promises to play a leading role in the way we power our industry, fuel our transport and heat our homes – so the CCR Skills & Talent team were thrilled to join other expert skills providers at the Hydrogen Skills Workshop organised by Cardiff and Vale College earlier this month.
With the CCR team intrinsically involved in helping meet skills demand – and the provision of net zero skillsets embedded in our Shared Prosperity Fund interventions – the Workshop proved incredibly helpful in illuminating the hydrogen skills pathway that will generate significant new jobs for our region …
The skills identified to build a hydrogen ecosystem
CR Plus of the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) ran a fascinating session revealing the skills identified (so far) that will help implement a Plan for Clean Growth with hydrogen at its heart.
It’s a plan that will retain 113,000 jobs, create countless new roles, grow the £6BN of Gross Value Add already delivered by industry in South Wales – and potentially unlock a phenomenal £30BN of investment opportunities in our region.
The skills needed include ‘transversal talent’ such as systems thinking, communication, leadership, digital, environmental awareness, environmental policy engagement and circular economy – as well as technology-based skills such as hydrogen, carbon capture, renewable power generation and circular design: a rich blend of skills that will create many new roles, as well as playing a vital part in the ‘greening’ of current occupations such as electricians, engineers, pipe fitters and welders.
A number of skills families needed to unlock £30BN of investment opportunities
Hydrogen skills and education provider Gwynt Glas showed how a skilled workforce is absolutely essential to creating a Hydrogen-ready supply chain – and how industry, FE colleges, the wider schools curriculum and career development programmes all have a vital part to play in nurturing the knowledge we need to both grab and deliver the renewable energy opportunity … while Hynamics, producers of hydrogen and part of the huge edf enterprise, painted the big picture of how green hydrogen power plants are being created across Europe (including in our region at Barry) through bespoke partnerships with local industries and stakeholders – identifying four skills families that are shaping the hydrogen pathway:
- The Analytical Skills to analyse different components of a project – including technical, economic, legal and organisational issues.
- The Creativity to generate new ideas, having considered both the opportunities and threats.
- The Entrepreneurship to identify ‘the right commercial options’ in a sector that is breaking new ground all the time.
- The Learnability to evolve in a fast-changing industry that’s already noted for its constant flow of emerging thinking, game-changing developments, new legislation and fresh business approaches.
The Key Takeaways & Lessons so far …
The Workshop clearly demonstrated that partnerships between different industries, various skills providers and wide-ranging businesses are essential to success.
Protium, the largest hydrogen producer in Wales, reinforced the message that a diversity of skills is needed to support a greener future – with their own organisation housing talent as ‘different’ as engineering, digital, project management – while DP Energy gave an energy developer’s perspective into the sustainable prosperity that could be achieved through both job creation and potential export opportunities.
The key learnings and takeaways so far?
The Workshop gave many deep insights, with several clear themes already apparent:
- The Future & Now: we urgently need to develop the skills and competencies of our people – and develop them in bigger numbers than ever before.
- The Need for Speed: we need those skills and that resourcing of people right now, for the projects already being developed.
- Collaboration is critical: working together is the only way we can identify and deliver to the requirements.
- Flexibility & Resilience are essential: the net zero landscape is still evolving and that evolution will long continue.
Maximising the opportunity to create skills and jobs in our region
Clare Allen, Skills Project Manager for Cardiff Capital Region, noted how the Workshop looked to build on an impressive historical legacy – and many current industry innovations – in our region:
“Our part of the world can lay claim to a special place in the hydrogen economy, with the hydrogen fuel cell being invented by William Grove, a proud South Walian, in 1842.
“If he were alive today, Sir William would be fascinated to see how this extraordinary fuel is now helping us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and inform many of our renewable energy initiatives – from Cardiff University’s Gas Turbine Research Centre and Welsh Water’s Cardiff Waste Treatment Works programme, to Tarmac’s pioneering project at the Aberthaw Cement Works and the wonderful work already underway across both the South Wales Industrial Cluster and Western Gateway.
“This Workshop represents something of a watershed in bringing together key hydrogen skills stakeholders – with both the knowledge and the lessons shared bringing everyone up to speed on a journey that is moving at a sometimes bewildering pace.”
Rowena O’Sullivan, Skills & Talent Manager for CCR, explained how the provision of hydrogen skills can help deliver the vision spelt out in CCR’s recently published Regional Economic and Industrial Plan:
“As a key fuel in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and a pillar of Welsh Government’s Low Carbon Delivery Plan – hydrogen is shaping a future that will create many thousands of highly-skilled, well-rewarded and sustainable jobs, for people and supply chains throughout our region.
“This Workshop has shown the potential for building a resilient skillsbase – and a talent pipeline capable of powering the scale-up and commercial deployment of initiatives that can establish Wales as an early market leader, in everything from domestic retrofit and large-scale hydrogen production, to the roll-out of fuel cell buses, trains and cars.
“Skill provision and R&D will be central to all that, supporting the local projects and place-based approaches that will drive our industrial decarbonisation – enabling us to be more connected, more competitive and more resilient, in every sense.”