The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership (@EUSkills) today hosted a virtual best practice event and awards ceremony to share sector success stories and honour the 43 energy and utilities asset owners and supply chain companies that successfully achieved the Procurement Skills Accord award for 2020/2021.

The Procurement Skills Accord (PSA) is a national initiative from the EUSP which leverages procurement practices to encourage investment in training and skills development across the supply chain. Now in its fourth year, and despite the pandemic, the initiative is supported by 56 signatories.

Today’s event allowed signatories to hear the findings of the PSA for the year 2020/21, and share working examples of best practice. Energy & Utility Skills Chief Executive Phil Beach CBE hosted the awards, welcoming keynote speakers Kevin Fowlie (Commercial, Engineering & Capital Delivery Director at United Utilities and Chair of the EUSP Delivery Board) and Peter Bingham (Chief Engineer at Ofgem). 43 companies (77% of the total signatories) were presented with an award for their pioneering efforts to transform investment in technical and operational skills.

Despite some of the most difficult economic and social conditions seen for generations, the 2020/21 Annual Review demonstrated an impressive and improving year, particularly in the proportion of signatories that have embedded skills development within the procurement process (78%, up from 70% last year).

Key achievements since the launch of the Accord in 2017:

  • Skills is becoming an important consideration within procurement
  • The number of Asset Owners that are signatories has increased from seven to 13 – representing nearly one-third of all the UK’s regulated asset owners
  • Skills development and workforce resilience are now included within Achilles UVDB, with evidence of widespread use
  • Technical training volume has increased – there is a current 3-year average of 12.6% of the total workforce in technical training across the supply chain

Phil Beach CBE, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills commented:

“The Procurement Skills Accord Awards are now in their fourth year and it’s really encouraging to see the positive impact changes in procurement practice are having on new levels of workforce investment. Nearly 80% of signatories have embedded skills into their procurement processes and it is brilliant to see that 4.1% of the operational workforce are now apprentices. We are delighted to see 43 organisations achieve this year’s Procurement Skills Accord Award, and the winners should be proud of their achievement.  The process is deliberately rigorous and challenging – even more so in a year where the pandemic severely disrupted working practices. The energy and utilities sector and their supply chain have proved they are making a real difference in enhancing technical and operational skills.”

Kevin Fowlie, Commercial, Engineering & Capital Delivery Director at United Utilities and Chair of the EUSP Delivery Board, said:

“I am delighted to be presenting the Energy and Utilities Procurement Skills Accord Awards this year at which 43 companies will receive the coveted Award against the backdrop of an international pandemic. This initiative has a critical role in supporting the overall delivery of the 2020-2025 workforce renewal and skills strategy with almost 12% of the sectors workforce on eligible training during 2020/21.”

Peter Bingham, Chief Engineer at Ofgem, commented:

“In 2019 the UK was the first major economy to pass net zero emissions law to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. Achieving Net-Zero will require significant investment in both capital infrastructure and the resources to deliver the change. Close collaboration between asset owners and their supply chain through initiatives like the Procurement Skills Accord will go a long way to ensuring the net-zero ambitions are delivered on time. I am delighted to be able to present this year’s awards to the organisations that have worked together to build resilience through investment in skills.”

During the pandemic, the PSA Steering Group also welcomed a new Chair – Phil Hicks, Head of Procurement at Northumbrian Water. Phil brings a breadth of experience to support the Group in increasing investment in supply chain skills and creating a sustainable skills sector workforce.

The PSA is now open for new signatories for 2021/22. This year a Supplier Dashboard will be introduced to provide enhanced metrics to signatories on how their suppliers are building a skilled and sustainable workforce.

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