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The chief executives from 32 of the UK’s leading energy and utility companies have launched a Sector Inclusion Commitment to attract more diverse and inclusive talent, reflective of the communities they serve.

The participating companies include SSE, Veolia, Centrica, and National Grid.

The Energy & Utility Skills Partnership, led by employers within the sector, has based the initiative on findings from its Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy: 2020, after finding that its current workforce isn’t fully representative of the 65 million people it serves every day.

Eighty-three percent of the sector’s workforce is male, in comparison to 47% for all sectors in the UK. Women, people with disabilities, minority communities and under 24s have traditionally been under-represented in the energy and utilities sector, compared to national averages.

In an effort to drive change, as well as recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, the thirty-two signatories of the agreement have committed to work collaboratively to recruit and retain more diverse talent. Estimates state that the sector will need over 221, 000 new recruits to fill the anticipated skills gap by 2027.

The initiative objectives include challenging the sector to act and think differently, and aims to connect with underrepresented groups, attracting talent and ideas into the power sector.

According to Nick Ellins, CEO of Energy & Utility Skills Group said “Through the inaugural skills strategy, led by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, the UK’s utilities and their contractors have set out their ambition to enhance the diversity of their workforces and be ever more inclusive.”

“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.”

Basil Scarsella, chair of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership Council said “The Inclusion Commitment is an opportunity for all of us in the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership to develop workforces that reflect the communities we all serve and tackle the challenge of increasing diversity head on. We are very keen to share best practice and drive change through proactive, transparent measures.”

The UK Government will invest more than £425 billion in over 600 major projects across the UK.

Nearly 50% of the projects in the pipeline are assigned to electricity, gas, water & sewerage, and waste, thereby making the energy and utilities sector the largest single contributor to government’s UK infrastructure strategy.