ONE of the country’s fastest-growing industries, offering thousands of new jobs, is hoping to attract Hampshire youngsters at a major exhibition being held in Southampton next week.

With experts predicting a fourfold increase in the number of renewable energy jobs over the next eight years, companies at the 15th annual Seawork International commercial marine showcase and conference are anxious to tempt students into the industry.

Demand for skills in this vital sector, together with the manufacturers and service suppliers supporting renewable energy generated by wind and waves, far outstrips the present supply of qualified entrants, making graduates and school-leavers highly valuable to the industry.

University students from across the region, together with up to 90 pupils from Southampton secondary schools and academies, have been invited to Seawork’s Maritime Training and Careers Trail featuring 20 recruitment agencies, further education centres and marine schools, together with potential employers offering apprenticeships and training.

Burgeoning In the past five years, the burgeoning offshore renewable energy industry, with its supply chain requirements for sub-sea surveying, dredging, wind turbine installation, operation and management, has significantly boosted the south’s commercial marine industry in terms of prosperity and employment.

Earlier this year a report by the Renewable Energy Association estimated 400,000 jobs will be needed to meet demands now being set by the EU.

Over the last 15 years, Seawork, which has always been staged in the port of Southampton, has grown and developed into Europe’s largest on-the-water commercial marine exhibition.

In excess of 400 exhibitors have booked stands in one of the two main halls, and of these, more than 100 are from the southern region, including over 40 specifically from in and around Southampton.

Seawork is now recognised as a world-class shop window on the UK’s marine industries, which employ about 90,000 people and generate annual sales of more than £10 billion.

Among the specialist areas covered by the exhibition will be security, shipbuilding and repair, military requirements, civil engineering, safety and the environment.

A purpose-built marina will provide berths for 60 craft of all shapes and sizes, which will be available for demonstration in the water off the Western Docks.

Seawork runs from Tuesday, May 22 to Thursday, May 24.