Energy skills centre for East coast gets backing

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An £11m energy skills centre could open in Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft within 24 months after a feasibility study backed the scheme.

Skills for Energy Partnership (SEP) is looking at four possible sites for the centre to meet a "shortage of skilled workers" in the energy industry.

A feasibility study by energy consultants Nautilus Associates backs the economic case for the centre.

The final choice for the two-acre site will be announced by SEP early in 2011.

The options are: Gas Works Road, Lowestoft; Beacon Park, Gorleston; Riverside near Asda, in Lowestoft; and South Denes, Great Yarmouth.

About 20,000 people a year will be able to learn or improve skills through the centre which will comprise offices and a range of workshops plus an outside training area.

'Excellent news'

Councils in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have indicated that they will support the project on behalf of the region.

Celia Anderson, an executive director for EEEGR (the East of England Energy Group) - which is behind SEP, said: "It's excellent news that the feasibility study by Nautilus Associates has given us the confidence to move to the next stage.

"This is not about a building but about a flagship centre which will unite existing training providers with the people who need the skills.

"We believe this is the best way to avert a critical shortage of skills in an industry which faces unparalleled growth in the region whether in windpower, gas, nuclear, agricultural biofuels, carbon capture and storage, marine energy or clean coal."

Judith Mobbs, Suffolk Country Council's assistant director, skills for the future, said: "Providing a high quality skills offer to support the energy sector in developing their workforce is of the highest priority."

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