Peterlee-born boss of Dogger Bank Wind Farm speaks of pride in new local apprenticeships

Jan 29, 2024 | Business

Mark Halliday, operations director of Dogger Bank Wind Farm, says he is proud to see high-quality green jobs of the future coming to the North East.

The Peterlee-born boss was speaking about the first three apprenticeships announced at the Dogger Bank headquarters in Tyne Dock, South Shields, which have all been taken by local youngsters.

Eighteen-year-olds Logan Ebanks, Bridie Gallagher and Jamie Edwards, all from South Shields, have started two years training at the wind farm’s Tyne Dock headquarters with Bridie and Logan apprenticed in electrical engineering and Jamie specialising in wind operations maintenance and logistics.

It is the first time apprenticeship training for future wind farm technicians has started in the borough and represents a significant contribution to skills training and technical education in the offshore wind industry.

Mark, whose father was a miner at Easington Colliery pit, and who grew up at a time when the region’s mines were closing, is delighted to be at the helm of a whole new era of clean, green energy jobs in the region.

He said: “We’ve heard a lot over the years about ‘good, green jobs’ being one of the benefits of the move towards renewables and that’s exactly what these apprenticeships represent.

“It’s a dividend that the next generation of workers in the region will get from the switch to wind power and having the biggest wind farm in the world on their doorsteps, with all the development and maintenance that entails.”

The colossal wind farm began generating power last year from its first phase – Dogger Bank A – and will go on to provide about 5% of the UK’s entire energy needs by 2026, when phases B and C will be completed.

Dogger Bank wind farm, a joint venture project by Norway’s Equinor, SSE Renewables and Vårgrønn has provided work all the way down the North East coast from Port of Tyne to Hartlepool, Teesside, and into Humberside.

And former Dene House Comprehensive pupil, Mark, added: “The ongoing work will create plenty of high-quality jobs not just at the wind farm but in the supply chain too and I’m pleased to welcome the first or our new apprentices to an industry which has a big and exciting future ahead of it.”

Bridie’s arrival is particularly welcome in an industry which has traditionally been male-dominated.

She said: “It’s still a bit uncommon for women to be in engineering – I’m one of two women out of 15 or 20 in my classes – but my dad’s an electrician, Harvey of BHN Electrical, so I picked up an interest from an early age.”

The former Mortimer School pupil added: “There might not be many women involved in offshore wind at the moment but I think the numbers are growing and I’ve found it a very welcoming and supportive environment so I would definitely encourage other women to get involved if they can.”

Logan, a former St Wilfrid’s RC pupil, who is from Whiteleas, said: “I saw an advert and applied straightaway – it was all a bit overwhelming at first but everyone has been great.

“It feels refreshing to be working in an industry and environment which is not harmful to the planet.

“There’s no doubt that wind is going to be a growth industry, so it’s a job for the future.”

Jamie is working in wind operations, maintenance and logistics, and will be part of the team responsible for supplying essential components to the wind farm.

For Jamie, the new job could hardly be more convenient.

Having travelled the world in bulk container ships previously, he now finds himself with a job minutes from his South Shields home.

“It’s just around the corner, and it’s exactly the sector I wanted to be involved in,” he said.

The former Whitburn Church of England Academy pupil who went on to become a cadet in engineering at South Shields Marine School, said: “I loved offshore work but wanted to get involved in renewables.

“I’d been working with Catapult at the Port of Blyth and had heard loads of good stuff about Dogger Bank, so I went searching for it online and saw the apprenticeship opportunity.

“It was really good timing and everything has just fallen into place.”

It’s good timing for Dogger Bank HQ too, with the management team there delighted to be able to recruit locally.

The wind farm owners have identified there’s a future skills gap looming and are looking to address it ahead of time, to keep the hundreds of wind turbines off the coast turning seamlessly.

Ande the new apprentices have started their training in a variety of roles, including electrical engineering and warehouse logistics.

Over the next two years they will study the operations, maintenance, and logistics of the wind farm, gaining the skills required for a career in the renewables sector.

Each will also gain a professional qualification in their respective field.

Two will learn the skills needed to maintain the giant 260-metre-tall turbines more than 130km from the North East coastline, gaining a L3 MOET qualification and a foundation degree in engineering.

This will include high voltage training, addressing that future skills gap and enabling the apprentices to support the first UK High Voltage Direct Current connected offshore wind farm.

More information about opportunities at Dogger Bank can be found here: https://doggerbank.com/recruitment/.