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  • by Karma Loveday

Water chiefs back inclusion commitment to boost workforce diversity

The chief executives of Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Scottish Water, SES Water, South West Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Welsh Water and Yorkshire Water are among 32 utility leaders that have supported a new sector Inclusion Commitment – a long-term commitment to attract more diverse talent into their industry.

Supported by Energy & Utility Skills, the commitment seeks to make the utility workforce more resilient; more reflective of customers and communities; and more innovative and productive. It is underpinned by five principles:

• “Work collaboratively as a sector to drive change, challenging ourselves to do things differently, by sharing best practice and delivering sector priorities.

• Focus on inclusion in its entirety, however our sector history requires targeted sector action to start by increasing gender, BAME and disability workforce representation.

• Measure and be transparent about progress in our individual organisations and as a sector.

• Ensure we create the culture we need to attract the workforce of tomorrow.

• Be inclusive in the way we attract, recruit and develop our people.”

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, led by sector employers, recognised in its Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy: 2020 that its current workforce fails to fully represent the 65m people it serves every day. 83% of the sector’s workforce is male, compared to 47% for all sectors nationally. Women, people with disabilities, the BAME community and under 24s are under-represented, compared to national averages.

Employing around 566,000 people across the UK, the sector will need over 221,000 new recruits to fill its expected skills gap by 2027.

Chief executive, Energy & Utility Skills Group, Nick Ellins, 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.”

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