Wales & West Utilities is supporting a national campaign to attract more diverse and inclusive talent into the energy and utility industry.

The company, which looks after the pipes that keep the gas flowing to heat homes and power businesses across Wales and the south west of England, has joined 28 other leading employers in launching a sector wide ‘Inclusion Commitment’. This pledges to drive change and work collaboratively to attract, recruit and retain a more diverse talent to the energy and utility sector. Employing around 566,000 people across the UK, the energy and utility sector will need over 220,000 new recruits to fill its expected skills gap by 2027.

Graham Edwards, Wales & West Utilities Chief Executive said: "Being a gas engineer isn't about your gender, race or sexuality: it's about your skills, the way you do things and your dedication to your work. Through proactive recruitment campaigns, we saw more female and BAME applications to our award winning apprenticeship scheme this year than ever before - and this is a record we want to break year on year.

"We want to reflect the diversity of the people we serve, and are proud to be supporting the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership Sector Inclusion Commitment. It will help the utilities industry as a whole deliver for the communities that rely on us every day."

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, led by energy and utility companies from across the UK, recognised in its Workforce Renewal Skills Strategy: 2020 that its current workforce fails to fully represent the 65 million people it serves every day. The report found that 83% of the sector’s workforce are male, compared to 47% for all sectors nationally. Women, people with disabilities, the BAME community and under 24s have traditionally been under-represented in the energy and utilities sector, compared to national averages.

The commitment will challenge the sector to act and think differently and aims to inspire and connect with underrepresented groups, attracting new talent and ideas into the energy and utilities industry. It is underpinned by five principles that commit to working collaboratively and sharing best practice, whilst creating an inclusive culture that enables it to attract, recruit and develop its people in a way where progress can be measured and transparent.

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive, 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.”

Proactively working with and attracting under-represented talent will be crucial to ensuring a resilient, future-proofed workforce that is a vital part of improving UK productivity and growth. Government will invest more than £425 bn (billion) in over 600 major projects across the UK (to 2020/21 and beyond). Nearly half the projects in this pipeline are assigned to electricity, gas, water & sewerage, and waste, making the energy and utilities sector the largest single contributor to government’s UK infrastructure strategy.