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16/03/22

Connecting dots: Connecting People

The following interview with Sylvia Boer appeared in the Heroes magazine of our member Atlas Professionals.

For Sylvia Boer, Director, Amsterdam Ijmuiden Offshore Ports (AYOP), the future is all about collaborating and creating a smart sustainable network  

As a little girl travelling to maritime trade shows with her father and younger sister who now also works in the business, Sylvia witnessed the charisma of the industry first-hand. And since then, there was no turning back. Her love for the sector and the desire to make a difference in a male-dominated market were her motivation to join this field.  After starting her career as Export Manager for Holland Marine Equipment, she progressed to hold key roles with several international maritime companies in the Netherlands.  

Today, she is the director of AYOP – an association of companies, regional governments, and knowledge institutions active in offshore oil & gas and wind energy in the North Sea Canal region. Her love for sailing, ships, and social networking is discerning and one knows that as she offers insights about the offshore industry, the current labour challenges and more from her houseboat in Amsterdam.  

What it takes  

According to Sylvia, the energy transition presents our industry with the opportunity to do things right. The Dutch Government has some incredible plans when it comes to offshore wind, of course, contributing to the European Climate Goals. Intending to produce 16 GW extra by 2030. The initial plan was growing from 7.5 GW to 11.5 GW in 2030 and way more by 2050. “These are enormous numbers and a lot of work. Imagine it to be a huge cake and we cannot eat this all by ourselves. The task requires a thorough co-operation of all the members and other partners in the supply chain to make this a success,” she says.  

Proactivity is the way forward and Atlas Professionals is one of the active members of AYOP in the current pool of 115 members. “Companies need each other to successfully lead the energy transition. This is not a task that can be done alone and I’m glad Atlas recognises that,” she shares.  

Smart ways of troubleshooting  

With the arrival of offshore wind farms, the North Sea Canal area has economic opportunities in the field of offshore wind. The strategic geographical location of AYOP and its strong network of companies form a powerful combination that can support the region, Sylvia feels, “We have a strong ecosystem to tackle challenges of today and tomorrow and together we can supply goods, services, personnel and knowledge. Personnel, innovation and space are the areas we need to unitedly work on.” 

In terms of space, AYOP is one of the instigators of the new to be developed Energy Port (Energiehaven), which should be ready by 2025 shares Sylvia, “The sludge depot in the former Averijhaven near IJmuiden is being developed into a new Energy Port. It is an essential move for the region considering that an increasing number of wind farms will be built in our backyard - the North Sea - in the coming years. We already initiated related research back in 2015 and has since been involved with the further development of the plans.”  

Widening our pool of talent  

The global labour shortage is a worrying trend and while there is not a lone source or solution for this challenge it is crucial to remain flexible and open. “If we look at the market trends currently, there is a huge problem. The lack of skilled labour is apparent, and we need to embrace all the talent we have out there. It’s no longer about men or women in the current workforce, it’s also about welcoming people from the LGBTQ+ community, reaching out to people from diverse cultural backgrounds, different ages, and creating a rich pool of talented people,” she affirms.  

“We need to understand that we are fishing in the same pond and there is a lot of competition within the industry itself,” she continues. To make it more lucrative, Sylvia insists on attracting new talent via smart recruitment strategies, “It also depends a lot on for example the tone of voice one uses in the advertisements, I see Atlas use women and people of colour in their vacancy posts, that itself is setting an example. This not only helps attract and retain a wide pool of talent but also makes for a diverse workforce. But it is also important for companies to open up and give students an opportunity to get to know our industry via internships or traineeships”.    

We need as many people as possible to get the job done. It means re-schooling people in specific areas to improve their skill set but also making people aware of the industry. Atlas does its part by organising Renewables Roadshows and partnering with colleges and universities to meet young minds and educate them about the industry. "It is a golden triangle between businesses, governments, and knowledge institutes, we are all in this together. It’s about how we leverage on shared opportunities to achieve a collective goal,” Sylvia says.