Taiwan is facing a frustrating chicken-and-egg style dilemma, notes Tom Manning. On the plus side, its offshore wind industry is growing at an exponential rate: by 2025, the island is on course to become the fourth largest offshore wind power user in the world, with 5.5 GW of installed offshore wind farm capacity. And that's just the start. By 2030, it aims to have 10-17 GW of offshore wind capacity in place.
The problem is, in order to grow the industry, Taiwan needs to find trained offshore wind technicians — and fast. Right now, however, it's struggling to do so.
“Finding local offshore wind industry personnel is difficult,” admits Tom. “That's partly because education in Taiwan has a 'white collar worker' focus. After university, graduates don't currently have clear career pathways into offshore wind. It's true there's no shortage of people who could potentially become offshore wind project managers, or work as part of finance or human resources teams within the sector. But the industry in Taiwan is really crying out for technical personnel. Obviously there's still work to do to demonstrate that being an offshore wind technician is an exciting and rewarding career.”
Tom is Deputy General Manager of Taipei-based CWind Taiwan — a joint venture established in January 2018 between CWind (part of the Global Marine Group) and International Ocean Vessel Technical Consultant (IOVTEC) — which provides a range of integrated services to offshore wind farm developers and owners, including construction and operations and maintenance.
In October 2018, CWind Taiwan announced that it had successfully completed its first project: a bathymetric survey at WPD’s Yunlin offshore wind project in Taiwan, which is to be located approximately eight kilometres from shore in the Taiwan Strait, and has continued to deliver projects in 2019 for the Formosa 1 Phase 2 project, amongst others. Then, this summer, it opened a brand new training centre — Taiwan International Windpower Training Corporation (TIWTC) — in Taichung Port. This offers a range of Global Wind Organisation (GWO) accredited courses, including tower rescue, confined space, sea survival and response team training.
“A couple of years ago, when CWind was looking at entering the Taiwanese market, we realised we had to invest in a training school,” says Tom. “Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to guarantee that we could deliver our business in Taiwan with the right technically skilled people who were trained to the exacting health, safety and quality standards we expect.” Alongside CWind Taiwan, shareholders in the training school are Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC), Taiwan Power Company (TPC), China Steel, China Ship Building Corporation and Swancor.
“We want TIWTC to become a conveyor belt of locally trained talent for the industry,” says Tom. “For instance, in collaboration with local developers, universities and technical institutes, we're launching an offshore wind training pilot scheme to introduce students to the work of an offshore technician. They'll come to the training centre, climb the training tower, jump in the training pool, and get an education about the sort of offshore wind careers available locally. Then they'll go back to their universities and institutes and, if they're interested, be put on an education pathway that leads them into the industry, with the promise of graduate positions with participating companies.”
Growing local presence
Atlas Professionals has a strong track record working with the Global Marine Group in the European offshore sector. Now, in the coming years, Tom hopes CWind Taiwan will build a strong working relationship with Atlas in the Taiwanese market.
“Atlas has been supporting the Group for quite some time,” he says. “For example, in Europe, it has supplied crew for our cable installation vessels and technicians for our renewable energy offshore wind projects. We're now looking forward to Atlas growing its presence in Taiwan because we know we can rely on the standard of candidates it supplies.
“Also, the Taiwanese market offers even more possibilities for our working relationship. As a business, we want to build on the training curriculum we offer and become the skills epicentre for the local market. Atlas is one of the best barometers in the industry at understanding where the industry is heading and the in-demand skillsets it needs. We believe it can help us set the tone for our training school over the next couple of years.”
Tom says it's difficult to pick a standout highlight from his varied career, which includes working for GMSL in the UK as a Maintenance Agreement Manager, and SBSS (SB Submarine Systems) as a Commercial Director in Shanghai. “Although I've really enjoyed my first 18 months with CWind in Taiwan,” he says. “I'm relatively new to offshore wind, so I've found it refreshing to learn about the industry at the same time as being responsible for building a business that's going to be successful within that industry. What's exciting is that it feels as though we're involved in the right sector in the right part of the world at the right time. I think the next couple of years will supply plenty of career highlights for me personally — and for CWind Taiwan generally.”
Are you interested in working in Taiwan? You can check Atlas Professionals' current open vacancies in Taiwan here.