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Back our engineers and the North East can lead UK green energy

South Shields-based Metec UK has pledged its support to help grow the engineering base required to power the region’s green energy boom.
And the business which was set up in 2016 to support the offshore wind industry – is calling on more local businesses to do the same.

The sacrificial anodes Metec UK manufactures, are fixed to steel structures destined for subsea installation to prevent corrosion. The business currently employs around 40 staff and has become a key supplier to many of the large offshore wind farms off the coast of the UK, Germany, Holland, Baltics, France, Spain and globally.

This month, the company added its name to the South Tyneside Pledge. To date, the pledge has been signed by over 140 businesses, with each one promising to recruit, subcontract and invest locally wherever possible.

In 2021, the company secured a major contract from Dogger Bank Wind Farm, and for commercial manager Graeme Crow, what happened next was a perfect example of the South Tyneside Pledge in action.

He said:

“We have a philosophy, and the will, with large project awards to do our utmost to keep as much of that investment as possible local. Our work is largely self-contained but, whenever we can, we subcontract to companies in the South Tyneside area who provide services and products which assist us in the execution and delivery of each project”.

“The Dogger Bank Wind Farm project was a five to six million pound project which translated into a spend of over a quarter of a million pounds with local suppliers and services who support and assist us to deliver high-profile projects of this nature.”

This year, Metec UK has also sealed a number of port and harbour upgrade projects including a six-figure deal to install a 30-year cathodic protection system in Scotland. Again a good percentage of the contract value has been spent locally.

For Graeme and his colleagues, the plan to keep subcontracting locally, has far greater value than just keeping investment in the region.

He added:

“By spending locally – we’re keeping engineering companies busy and that filters onto other smaller businesses which allows them to take on more workers. It’s in everybody’s interests to grow those local skills and increase their availability. It helps them take on more engineers and more apprentices.

“We must get more people involved in engineering as it’s in the region’s DNA and – although it’s coming back with green energy – we have been very close in the past to losing what our parents and grandparents built the North East on.

“Ten years ago, if you talked to young people leaving schools and asked them what they wanted to be – they wanted to work in IT or social media. Now they’re talking about engineering again. We need to hold onto these skills. My father was an engineer and that’s the case for so many engineers you talk to.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that people are going into schools to teach STEM to young ones – but you also can’t overlook the importance of our local engineering history. What’s wonderful to see is the offshore wind industry and the need and interest in green energy start to revitalise local industry. Between our engineering legacy and our location – the North East is leading Britain in this field.

“So, we’re saying to other engineering firms – let’s continue to grow our legacy. Invest locally. There are so many opportunities ahead so long as we have good people and good suppliers and great engineers.”

For Invest South Tyneside, Metec UK’s loyalty to the area represents the epitome of the pledge. Not just its dedication to recruiting and spending locally but also Metec UK’s expertise in the offshore wind industry makes it a significant part of the region’s growing green energy expertise.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Chair of South Tyneside Partnership, said:

“For a company that works across Europe, it is inspirational to see Metec UK’s commitment to South Tyneside. Their passion for the work they do for the offshore industry shines through, as does their pride in the heritage of the North East and the skills and expertise we have here.

“Businesses like Metec are vital. The employment is vital, the investment is vital, bringing sizeable contracts to the North East is irreplaceable but also so is their energy and ambition and desire to grow supply chains and subcontractors with them. They are a wonderful example of the South Tyneside Pledge in action.”

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