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Coastal Energy internships: not all at sea

Published: 25 June 2020

Plans for the 2020 Energy Internship programme were well under way when the corona virus lockdown was put in place, curtailing the planning and placement process.

“With the current disruption to working practices, it would be impossible for students to take up work placements this summer. We paused our plans to give companies the space to deal with the crisis, but we look forward to renewing contacts and developing placements in 2021” says programme lead John Best.

“However, the Coastal Energy internship programme has been growing in momentum and impact over the past few years and we didn’t want to lose that initiative. Instead of work placements, we have now developed three CREST projects based on local industry that students can carry out in their own time,” explains John. “The students will be working towards their Gold CREST awards, learning about local industry and building connections with business.”

Students will be linked to one of three supporting businesses – Vattenfall, ScottishPower Renewables and James Fisher Marine Services – who will launch the projects next week via a recorded webinar to the students. Each company will produce a brief for the students to use as they work on their project.

“The Coastal Energy internship programme is well-established and respected within the UK energy sector,” concludes John. “In these challenging times, this project-based alternative approach will help to maintain engagement with the students/colleges and with the host companies, which is so vital in informing, stimulating and attracting our future workforce. We hope to be back even stronger for 2021 and look forward to renewing our contacts and building relationships across the wider sector.”

a ship and turbines on a blue sea

The Coastal Energy scheme has recently been featured in the Insight Energy magazine. You can read the article below.


Reports suggest that the UK must recruit more than 100,000 people to fill green energy roles within a decade if the government hopes to meet its binding climate targets, which industry will then need to sustain and grow. Therefore, it has never been more important to nurture a diverse workforce with the right skills to deliver on these ambitions.

Attracting the workforce of the future at the earliest opportunity, while they are forming a vision of the direction they want a career to head in, is essential.

The Ogden Trust has recognised the shortfall and provides a platform for students to take their first steps in the direction of exciting and innovative industries by fast-tracking the cultivation of their STEM skills and industry knowledge with the 20-day Coastal Energy internship scheme, now entering its fifth year.

The programme was developed and is led by John Best, working with The Ogden Trust which engages with host companies and champions from the colleges to provide the internships for students.

Launched in East Anglia, these internships, which are all hosted by leading companies in the energy and engineering sector, including James Fisher Marine Services (JFMS), have been extended to other coastal communities around the East Coast of England, including Grimsby and Barrow on the West Coast, laying the foundations for a STEM-based career with meaningful experiences of work. The interns receive an educational bursary for their contribution. In some cases, companies pay the interns to do additional days.

“All of the projects seek to utilise STEM skills by delivering self-managed, meaningful tasks that will add value to the business,” says Clare Harvey, Chief Executive of The Ogden Trust. “Of real importance is developing the soft skills associated with working in a business – the phrase we use is ‘experience of work’ rather than work experience.”

Alumni include Lucas He, a post-Year 13 student from Lowestoft Sixth Form College, who stepped into an internship hosted by JFMS with little knowledge about the career avenues available if he studied a mathematics degree.

John Best, who runs the Coastal Energy internship scheme, with alumni Evie Read and Lucas He
John Best, who runs the Coastal Energy internship scheme, with alumni Evie Read and Lucas He

He grasped the opportunity to understand how his skills could support business activities. From the outset, Lucas was actively involved with JFMS’s Offshore Wind Management System (OWMS)® and this eye-opening experience of the energy sector affirmed his ambition to go on to pursue a physics/mathematics degree, rather than the natural sciences degree he’d originally considered.

Lucas explains: “I was caught in two minds but seeing the importance of analytical skills in the workplace reinforced my decision to study physics/mathematics at university.”

JFMS and the other industry hosts support the development of the future workforce by ensuring young people gain practical learning and industry experience while widening awareness of exciting energy careers. During his internship, Lucas got involved with live projects that provided him the opportunity to apply his subject knowledge, develop work skills and, perhaps most important of all, increase his confidence.

“My eyes were truly opened during the internship,” Lucas adds. “Before, I would bike past the docks, where leading energy developers, such as SSE and ScottishPower Renewables are located, thinking that they just sold fish down there, but now I have a better understanding of a rapidly expanding, multi-billion pound industry right at my door-step.’’

Unsurprising to the people who he supported at JFMS, Lucas went on to achieve outstanding A-level results and is now studying a degree in mathematics at the world-class University of Cambridge.

Lucas is just one example of over 120 young people who have participated in the programme since 2016. Others include Evie Read, working with Innogy to develop an educational resource for young people, and Felicity Levett, one of the first interns whose passion for physics was inspired by her project during her placement with JFMS which looked at the design of a gangway. Felicity (Flick) went on to graduate from University of Lincoln with a first-class honours degree in physics.

All of this is possible through the support from The Ogden Trust, which has funded 100 interns over the last two years, and the generosity of host companies that support the scheme – which also include Windcat Workboats, SSE, Vattenfall and Siemens Subsea in Barrow. Clearly the benefits of the scheme are mutual. To reaffirm this, JFMS has committed to matching Ogden Trust funding for four interns a year through to 2023.

“I was delighted to hear that James Fisher Marine Services is willing to make such a long-term commitment to the Coastal Energy internships programme, matching the commitment we have made.” said Clare. “Hopefully they will be an example for others to follow. It also reaffirms why we consider the programme to be more than 20 days.”

Reproduced from Insight Energy, a magazine for the oil and gas industry, by kind permission from Archant

turbines in a blue sea with blue sky behind

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