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Industry groups call for action to meet UK hydrogen targets in new workforce foresighting report

17 June 2024

Urgent action is needed in order for the UK to meet the government’s target to increase hydrogen production, according to a new Workforce Foresighting Hub report. The new report was carried out to identify future skills demands to be addressed to meet the challenge of increasing hydrogen production.

Hydrogen has been identified as a zero-carbon fuel source which can help the UK reach its ambitious Net Zero targets. In the British Energy Security Strategy, the government has set a target to deliver up to 10 GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with at least half of this coming from electrolytic hydrogen.

The Workforce Foresighting Hub report identified future supply chain capabilities, future occupational profiles, and suggested changes to current training provision to deliver the skills needed for its wholesale adoption. Without action now, it is likely that the capabilities and capacity of the workforce will be insufficient to meet the needs for achieving the government’s targets, the report says.

The report focuses specifically on above-ground hydrogen storage tanks, which are critical in all aspects of bulk storage, distribution and commercial hydrogen use and are applicable across many sectors. However, concerns about skills gaps in design, installation, maintenance, and operation threaten to impede progress in this critical area.

The report was sponsored by the Tank Storage Association and led by the National Composites Centre, in collaboration with the Hydrogen Skills Alliance, which brought together experts from education, employment and the industry to produce it.

Meeting future demands

The report is part of the Workforce Foresighting Hub programme, an Innovate UK initiative, which brings together domain specialists, educators and employers across innovative technologies to deliver individual ‘foresighting cycles’ on specific challenges.

By assessing capability needs and identifying gaps in current skills development, the goal is to support the education and training sector to effectively drive action within each individual challenge.

Output reports from each cycle detail future supply chain capabilities, prototype future occupational profiles, and deliver recommendations to drive action to ensure that the UK continues to harness the potential of innovative technologies.

Peter Davidson, Chief Executive of the Tank Storage Association, said: “As a zero-carbon fuel source, hydrogen will play a key role in helping the UK reach our Net Zero goals, but if we don’t have the skilled workforce to exploit this, we won’t be able to use it to its full potential.

“That is why we’re delighted to have partnered with the Workforce Foresighting Hub team and the National Composites Centre on this report. The workforce foresighting process provides us with the insight and recommendations to avoid future skills shortages, ensuring we have a workforce with the capability and capacity to adopt hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel source.

“While there is a lot of work to do, the process allows us to identify specific actions at an early stage, meaning we have the time and the recommendations needed to help us improve the capabilities of the workforce.”

Katy Riddington, Chief Portfolio Officer at the National Composites Centre, added: “This report underscores the urgent need for targeted skills development to support the UK’s hydrogen ambitions. By addressing these gaps now, we can ensure that our future workforce is prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy.”

You can view the report by clicking here.

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