Utility, waste and energy giants have signed a diversity agreement to attract talent, address skills shortages and ensure the industry better reflects the make-up of the general population.
Some 83% of workers in the utility and energy sector are male compared with 47% of all sectors nationally. Women, people with disabilities, black and minority ethnic and under-24s have all been traditionally under-represented in the industry.
These were the findings of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership’s (EUSP) report Workforce Renewal Skills Strategy: 2020.
In response, the partnership has brought together 29 businesses, employing 566,000 people, to agree on the Inclusion Commitment in a bid to help it find the extra 220,000 recruits needed to fill the skills gap by 2027.
EUSP chair Basil Scarsella said: “Proactively working with and attracting under-represented talent will be crucial to ensuring a resilient, future-proofed workforce that is a vital part of improving UK productivity and growth.”
The partnership said the Government is investing more than £425bn in more than 600 major projects across the UK up to 2021 and beyond. Nearly half of projects in this pipeline are assigned to electricity, gas, water and sewerage, and waste, making the energy and utilities sector the largest single contributor to the UK’s infrastructure strategy.
Veolia UK and Ireland has signed up to the deal, and its chief human resources officer Marguerite Ulrich said: ‘Studies have shown diversity of thought improves problem-solving, decision-making and even financial performance. We know that, by leveraging our people’s differences, we can drive innovative growth in our company and the industry.”
Energy & Utility Skills Group chief executive Nick Ellins said: “This new commitment is a framework. It starts the collective action to help the sector workforce better mirror the communities it serves and secure the unquestionable benefits that result from having vibrant, truly inclusive and diverse teams.”
FCC is also a signatory. Group chief executive Paul Taylor said: “Working collaboratively with peers including the EUSP on the Inclusion Commitment has brought into sharp focus our achievements to date, and the need to go ever further to encourage diversity in its many forms and recognise the contribution all members of our team make to meeting the objectives of our business.”
Other companies signed up to the agreement include Amey, Balfour Beatty, Kier and Viridor.
The Inclusion Commitment is based around five principles: working collaboratively for change; focus on inclusion; measure and transparency around progress; create a culture to attract the future workforce; be inclusive in recruitment and development of people.