Basil Scarsella, CEO of energy supplier UK Power Networks, has become the Chairman of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, replacing former E.ON CEO, Tony Cocker.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership was formed a year ago in July 2016 when 29 leading utility sector employers came together to ensure “a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce provides the essential services that our customers seek and meets the UK’s needs from the energy and utilities infrastructure.”

Tony Cocker began the work of the Partnership by bringing leading sector employers together to compile Many Skills: One Vision, the first-ever workforce renewal & skills strategy. Published in February 2017, the strategy highlights the need for the entire sector to source applicants with varied and often high-level skills to keep up with evolving needs in the years to come.

New chair Basil Scarsella said:”I appreciate how important it is to develop a sustainable workforce in an industry that is essential to meet people’s everyday needs. Every company is only as good as its employees.”

The energy and utility sector delivers essential services to 65 million citizens each day and is responsible for 56 per cent of the UK government’s National Infrastructure Pipeline – an assessment of the infrastructure investment necessary to underpin the economy.

With 20 per cent of its workforce retiring in the next 10 years, the sector needs to recruit 221,000 people to replace them, and the Skills Partnership has engaged with stakeholders, sector employers of all sizes, education and training providers and elected officials to encourage urgent action to be taken.

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills), the expert voice on workforce issues across the sector which helped to form the Partnership, commented: “The Skills Partnership is focused on ensuring a resilient, skilled and sustainable workforce for an energy & utilities sector that is pivotal to the UK. We will be collaborating with the four UK governments to achieve this and in managing the emerging challenges such as Brexit and the ever-increasing competition for UK talent.”

The Skills Partnership’s members are collaborating on a series of initiatives to increase sector attractiveness and recruitment, maximise investment in skills and take a targeted action to address skills gaps and shortages.