The current boom in the wind energy sector, which is showing no signs of slowing down in the near future, is having a direct impact on the labour market. Given this exponential growth, vocational college Scalda and Atlas Professionals have joined forces when it comes to sharing human capital knowledge and experiences within the wind industry.
Movement to Wind
We spoke with John Leeman, Programme Manager Wind at Scalda, about the increase of professionals in the wind industry. John has taken the initiative to create and devise wind lessons for MBO (secondary vocational) students in Zeeland. “With the construction of the Borssele 1 to 4 offshore wind farms and the Krammer onshore wind park here in Zeeland, a shift is visible to wind, on land and sea. If we want to be able to meet this growth in labour demand in wind, then we as an educational institute have to respond to this,” emphasises John.
With over 8,000 students and 700 employees, Scalda is one of the largest institutions for vocational education in Zeeland. Scalda provides secondary vocational education (MBO) courses for 13 specific sectors such as automotive, maritime or wind, and has offices in Goes, Middelburg, Terneuzen and Vlissingen.
Human Capital in Wind
Currently, there are an estimated 4,000 people working in the wind industry in the Netherlands. In the period up to 2023, employment in wind is expected to grow to more than 12,000. Offshore wind projects can roughly be divided into four phases: development, construction, operation and decommissioning. Employment mainly arises in the construction and operation phase of wind farms. “The majority of the labour required in the wind chain needs to graduate with MBO level 3 or 4. The ratio is about 10 FTE MBO students compared to one HBO (higher professional education) student,” John adds. A large part of this employment will be in the Zeeland region because of the offshore business activities in the hinterland and due to the realisation and exploitation of (new) wind farms off the Zeeland coast.
Education and business together
The ambition to make Zeeland a pilot project in the field of innovative techniques for delta management and the energy transition is a process that education together with the business community and government must address, he says. “My philosophy is that you always have to work with a network of business partners when implementing innovations in vocational education. It is only in this way that it can succeed,” says John.
Everything that is taught at Scalda is therefore tested by its business partners first. “Once they have given their approval on the teaching material and model, we will then start giving the lessons. This ensures close collaboration between education and the industry. And in this way we certainly know that the teaching material is tailored to the demand from the industry.” Very soon Scalda will have developed the educational model for the wind industry that will be introduced to all the vocational schools in the Netherlands.
With the financial support from the province of Zeeland, the government and business partners, it is possible for Scalda to realise this new wind course and to establish a dedicated laboratory named MBO DeltaLAB at its location in Vlissingen. Scalda wants to strengthen the quality and quantity of human capital by establishing MOB DeltaLAB to focus on delta management and the energy transition.
At this moment, the laboratory is being set up whereby a model wind turbine is being built, which will be used to provide basic technical training, as well as safety training courses in the future based on the Global Wind Organisaton (GWO) certificate in order to better meet the expected growth for wind industry professionals. “With the start of the new school year this September, everything will be ready and we will start providing training in the wind industry for both students in regular education and in adult education.”
Atlas is partner in new MBO DeltaLAB
Scalda recently invested heavily in its network, and this included joining forces with Atlas Professionals, which is now one of its partners in the field of human capital in the wind industry. In line with the recently signed Letter of Intent, Atlas Professionals is committed to conducting educational and training activities on the theme ‘Energy and Water’ at the new MBO DeltaLAB.
Atlas is a nice addition to the network of companies that Scalda already has, John stresses. “Atlas supplies personnel to the entire wind chain – from development to dismantling – and has built up a large network and track record over the years. This knowledge is very important to us. After all, with only graduates, the demand from the industry for professionals in wind cannot be met. Working together with business partners is therefore crucial.”