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Essex & Suffolk Water has joined 28 other energy and utilities employers today to launch a long-term commitment to attract more diverse and inclusive talent into their industry, reflecting the communities they serve.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, led by 28 of the country’s leading sector employers, recognised in its Workforce Renewal Skills Strategy: 2020 that its current workforce fails to fully represent the 65 million people it serves every day. It has been joined by an additional four organisations in making today’s pledge.

83% of the sector’s workforce are male, compared to 47% for all sectors nationally. Women, people with disabilities, the BAME community and under 24s have traditionally been under-represented in the energy and utilities sector, compared to national averages.

Alison Corner, Employee Engagement Manager at Essex & Suffolk Water, said: “We are passionate about attracting, supporting and retaining a diverse workforce. Being truly inclusive and representative of our communities is essential if we are to achieve the ambitious goals we have set ourselves for the future, in areas including customer experience, affordability and innovation. This is an important commitment working with others in the sector to really drive change and we look forward to continuing to see improvements in the diversity of the water industry and beyond”

To tackle this challenge, and to build a resilient workforce for the future, the 32 leading employers have committed themselves to drive change and work collaboratively to attract, recruit and retain a more diverse talent to the sector. Employing around 566,000 people across the UK, the sector will need over 220,000 new recruits to fill its expected skills gap by 2027.

The commitment will challenge the sector to act and think differently and aims to inspire and connect with underrepresented groups, attracting new talent and ideas into the energy and utilities industry. It is underpinned by five principles* that commit to working collaboratively and sharing best practice, whilst creating an inclusive culture that enables us to attract, recruit and develop our people in a way where progress can be measured and transparent.

Proactively working with and attracting under-represented talent will be crucial to ensuring a resilient, future-proofed workforce that is a vital part of improving UK productivity and growth. Government will invest more than £425 billion in over 600 major projects across the UK (to 2020/21 and beyond). Nearly half the projects in this pipeline are assigned to electricity, gas, water & sewerage, and waste, making the energy and utilities sector the largest single contributor to government’s UK infrastructure strategy.