Exploiting the Potential of the Subsea Energy Cluster in the North East of England

Project Leader(s): David Charles
Staff: Fiona Whitehurst, Catherine Hodgson, Julia Race (Marine Science and Technology)
Contact: David Charles
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council

Newcastle University Business School and School of Marine Science & Technology have received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Business Engagement Scheme to work with the subsea energy sector to identify the ways in which firms can work together to promote their industrial sector and tailor skills provision to meet their requirements. Considerable government funding is going into (a) initiatives to upskill the workforce post Leitch and also into (b) encouraging young people into Science, Engineering & Technology. However firms, particularly the smaller ones, have difficulty in engaging with the plethora of different initiatives and training providers that exist.  This is of particular concern when the Government plans to give employers greater leadership of the skills system and encourage Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to collaborate with employers on workforce development. In particular this project aims to:

  • Map the skills needs of employers in the subsea energy sector to identify technical and managerial skills gaps with a view to enhancing the course content of existing provision and influencing new provision;
  • Explore different models of involving employers in the design and delivery of courses at FE/HE level with a view to increasing the amount of subsea engineering specific education provision in the Northeast of England
  • Map the availability of initiatives within the region to promote engineering through all stages of the education process (primary to graduate);
  • Through action based research, involve the firms in the design of an interactive exhibition to promote subsea engineering to school age children and evaluate its impact
  • Examine the difficulties firms, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, have in responding to government (and privately) funded initiatives to encourage young people (from primary to graduate education) into engineering.

This project will contribute to the sustainability of the subsea energy sector by promoting knowledge and understanding of this high-value added, technologically advanced industry within the region. It will strengthen links between the firms by promoting collaborative working and will clearly identify the routes (a) by which firms can engage with young people and (b) through which firms can obtain tailored training for their employees. 


Dr Fiona Whitehurst
Senior Lecturer