Wind turbine blade repair and inspection firm Altitec believes that the lack of industry-wide accreditation for blade repair technicians is limiting opportunities for job seekers in the UK wind industry.
The UK’s wind industry is widely recognised as having significant economic potential, with a recent report from Offshore Energy Catapult estimating the offshore industry alone to be worth up to £2.9 billion. Similarly, there is vast scope for job creation, from construction right through to operational maintenance and repair. As an ever-larger number of UK wind farms come online around the country, there is also increasing demand for the specialist personnel required to effect wind turbine repairs, often in harsh environments.
However, drawing on figures and feedback from its training courses, run by the company at its dedicated training centre, the Altitec Academy, Altitec points to the lack of an independent, widely recognised qualification of blade repair standards as a key factor in discouraging domestic job-seekers from entering the sector.
“We’re increasingly seeing asset owners cite specific training requirements in tender documents, and an industry standard for blade repair training will provide greater reassurance and clarity in this regard” said Tom Dyffort, Managing Director, Altitec Group. “We currently train around 150 blade inspection and repair technicians at the Altitec Academy in London each year. But we’re finding the absence of a recognised accreditation is putting many British workers off entering the wind turbine blade repair business – even those with previous rope access experience. This is especially frustrating given the huge availability of work for good technicians on sites across the UK, Ireland and Europe. A recognised industry standard would reassure potential applicants that becoming a blade repair technician offers a well-paid, technically skilled and, above all else, exciting and personally rewarding career path in the wind industry.”
Renewable UK introduced its blade repair and inspection standard in 2014, covering early-stage training and basic blade repair issues. However, for technicians whose skills and expertise go beyond these basics, perhaps with on-site experience, there is currently no industry-recognised qualification they can cite as they move through their careers.
Technicians and employers alike stand to benefit greatly from the introduction of a standardised certification that would reliably and uniformly demonstrate a technician’s qualifications for site work. For technicians, such a certification would allow them to more easily work across multiple sites over their careers, increasing their experience and value to potential employers; while, for employers, it would instil confidence that the technicians they hire have the knowledge and skillset to do the job.