PH eyed as Asian training hub for wind industry

At a glance

  • The propounded Asian training center in the Philippines will cater to the need for pool of talents in the flourishing offshore wind industry in the region.

COPENHAGEN -- An “Asian training hub’ in the Philippines for upskilling and reskilling of talents in the offshore wind industry is being explored with private Danish firms as well as the government of Denmark, so there will be an institution where pool of talents can gain broader expertise on the various facets of wind power development and operations.

“If we are one of the first movers into offshore wind, then the potential for our being a first mover in the training space would also be there,” Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said.

In a meeting of the Philippine delegation with Danish firm Relyon Nutec, a safety and survival training firm being tapped by global energy companies, stakeholders from the Philippine government led by the Department of Energy (DOE) as well as the Wind Energy Developers Association of the Philippines (WEDAP), held exploratory talks on how the Philippines could be positioned as the ‘nerve center’ of talents and skills enforcement for the emerging offshore wind industry in the region.

According to the energy chief, “one of the major attractions for the Philippines for them is: it’s easier to communicate with our people because they see that the language skills can match, than for to communicate with other countries in Asia.”

He expounded that since Relyon Nutec first concentrated on oil and gas operations, and “they have been present in several countries that have oil and gas – operations like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia; then a foray into offshore wind may also be following that particular trend.”

WEDAP President J. Ildebrando B. Ambrosio indicated that “the establishment of a wind energy industry training center in the Philippines to serve the needs of the Philippines as well as neighboring countries is an initiative that we, in the industry, can address, in partnership with Danish training service providers.”

He emphasized that the target is “to develop and upgrade the capabilities and skills of our technicians, to enable competencies and certifications for current turbines in the country and the coming technologies for offshore wind.”

Danish Ambassador to the Philippines Franz-Michael Mellbin acknowledged that a regional training center for offshore wind in the Philippines “is a very interesting proposition because there is a great need for training and new scope now for the wind industry… definitely, this is an interesting proposition because there would be large demand for skilled workers in this area.”

He echoed “one of the things that the Philippines can offer is that: you have a broad-based English-speaking workforce which is very important; and the second thing is, if the industry participates in educating Filipinos for the industry, Filipinos are also known to be moving outside of the Philippines, so you would get a globalized workforce that the industry can draw on from, so I can see an interest from the industry here.”

As a starting point, he underscored that one initial prudent step that the Philippine government or the DOE must take is “to create a policy on developing pool of skilled workers directed toward the wind industry. The industry itself has to co-invest in that because they have a direct interest on this as everybody needs talents, so I’m very inspired to look into this and have a discussion with the leading companies on this area – Denmark has two of those, so that would be a good start.”

He qualified the other key thing the Philippine government must make up its mind on would be the type of training activities it would want to specialize on -- “which part of the existing workforce will that effort be directed to – is it retraining or post-training or is it from-scratch-training or basic training. So, it would need a discussion with the government, what is it that it actually needs and want.”

The ambassador added “the private sector here is really motivated to participate, but it is really up to the government to create a vision for the industry, because the industry is interested in talents.”

The envoy narrated this type of collaboration will mirror what the Philippines and Denmark had already attained in the shipping industry – primarily on the training of skilled workers and the required re-education for seafarers that were eventually tapped by Danish logistics firm Maersk for its operations.