Ex-serviceman and former prison officer Matt Knights is being seconded by EEEGR to Jobcentre Plus to help recruit much-needed workers for the East of England energy industry.
Initially, he will focus his attention on the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas, trying to match the ability of people looking for jobs with an increasing demand from expanding energy companies in the region.
The rapid development of the offshore wind sector and a new focus on the oil & gas business in the Southern North Sea have prompted a host of vacancies in the regional energy supply chain.
Matt Knights, 31, who joined EEEGR (the East of England Energy Group) and its Skills for Energy team earlier this year, took up his one-year role of energy employment adviser to Jobcentre Plus earlier this month.
“Because of higher unemployment levels in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, I’ll be looking first through their entire database of 5000-6000 job seekers to find any who we can help fast-track through to the energy industry. We can also weed out any who are clearly not suitable.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to work with the Jobcentre to develop closer links with the energy industry and create greater understanding of its needs to find potential workers to meet growth. They will include ex-services personnel and workers from with other industries.”
Knights joined the Army at 18 and went into the Royal Engineers serving in Kosovo, Iraq and Germany until 2004. Later he became a prison officer at Blundeston until it closed last December and was then taken on as project coordinator and military liaison specialist for EEEGR.
In his new post, funded by Jobcentre Plus and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, Matt said it might even be necessary to take a message to young students. If college leavers faced unemployment or those training for engineering roles could not find jobs, they might have to be pointed in the direction of the energy industry.
Julia Nix, regional manager for Jobcentre Plus, said: “I am delighted that Matt will be joining us in this exciting new role. There is a wide range of jobs available within the energy sector and it is so important that we maximise these employment opportunities by helping local people secure work in this expanding industry. By identifying and up skilling suitable individuals Matt will be able to meet the needs of our existing employers as well as new employers moving into the area by providing them with skilled applicants to fill their vacancies.”