The energy sector created more jobs in the North of England than in any other UK region last year and continues to be a large and stable employer, driven in part by the significant levels of capital investment being made across the energy value chain.
That is according to Powering the UK, a new report prepared by professional services firm EY for Energy UK, which notes that while employment centres for the energy sector are ‘relatively spread out’ across all UK regions, the pattern of job creation over 2013 ‘significantly benefited the North of England’.
The direct employment level in the energy sector in the North increased by 4,000 jobs last year compared with 2012, according to EY analysis of Office of National Statistics (ONS) data contained in the report.
The volume of people working in the industry in 2013 in the North East increased by 2,000 to 11,000, in the North West by 1,000 to 15,000, and in Yorkshire and Humberside by 1,000 to 11,000.
The North of England supported 37,000 energy sector jobs in total in 2013 and thousands more within the energy supply chain.
The South, excluding London, saw a 3,000 job increase in the energy sector in 2013; the Midlands 2,000 and the East of England 1,000. London and Wales each saw the number of people directly employed in the energy sector decline by 1,000, while the number in Scotland fell by 2,000.
Alistair Denton, assurance partner at EY in Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “While a lot of other major sectors are concentrated in London and the South East, the energy sector is truly national in the distribution of its companies and assets.
“Steady industry investment over recent years has been good news for jobs in the North, where there is a wide range of different strategically important energy infrastructure assets, as well as a strong sector skills base.”
The report – which sets out the contribution the energy industry makes to the country’s economy –also reveals that £13.1bn was invested in energy generation, transmission, distribution and supply assets last year in the UK, representing around a quarter of all new infrastructure investment and a level broadly similar to that seen in 2012.
Investment by the energy industry in 2012 and 2013 was ‘higher than at any point in recent history’ in the UK, according to the report.
Mr Denton added: “Given high levels of ongoing investment in energy infrastructure – illustrated by the £13.1bn secured in 2013 – we expect the industry to remain a significant employer in the North and throughout the UK over the coming years.
“This is supported by our research which shows that sector firms expect their employment levels in generation to remain stable over the medium term.
“The high levels of investment in 2012 and 2013 are striking because they played out against a backdrop of falling energy demand, greater uncertainty surrounding energy policy and the need for companies to invest in the face of the ongoing pressure from consumers for lower energy bills.
“Our survey suggests that it is the policy environment that remains the most important factor in energy sector companies’ decisions around investment and employment.
“For example, over half of respondents suggested that they had deferred investment decisions over the past years as a result of a perceived increase in the level of UK policy risk.”