Scotland needs to develop a skilled workforce to meet the demand of high-quality jobs that will be created
A doubling of planned funding to improve oil and gas training facilities and develop other energy sector skills courses has been announced by the First Minister. Led by Skills Development Scotland and located at Robert Gordon University, Energy Skills Scotland (ESS) is being backed by an investment package worth £6.5m – double the original amount unveiled last year, Alex Salmond revealed during a visit earlier this month to the ASET industry training platform at Aberdeen College.
Through the development of a dedicated Energy Skills Scotland Gateway, ESS will work with industry to boost collaboration and encourage more talent into and across the energy sector – specifically to encourage and support more women, young people and mid-career professionals into the industry. Its first priorities will include:
• Supporting the establishment of a new Oil & Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS) – a collaboration between Aberdeen University, Robert Gordon University, Banff and Buchan College and Aberdeen College.
• Providing 1000 new transitional training places to ‘up-skill’ technicians and professionals looking to transfer to work in the energy sector
• Supporting new wind turbine technician training college courses across a number of hubs in Scotland, particularly at Ayr and Dumfries and Galloway colleges
• Supporting improvements to facilities and delivering additional energy skills courses at Heriot-Watt University and Forth Valley College
• Establishing a gateway located at Robert Gordon University to be a one stop shop for energy training and courses in colleges and universities across the whole of Scotland – from Thurso to Dumfries.
The £6.5m support package is double the initial £3.25m allocated last September, following talks with employers in the industry to ensure ESS matches identified needs.
The First Minister said: “Scotland’s energy industry – across all sectors – needs 95,000 more people between now and 2020. This is a huge opportunity for Scotland – by ensuring our workforce has the right skills and training, Energy Skills Scotland will support our energy industry and ensure people can access the jobs that are available. It’s a win-win situation.
“Scotland is a major oil and gas producer with reserves worth up to £1.5 trillion according to Scottish Government estimates – although academic estimates have put it much higher. Our unrivalled wind, wave and tidal resources, huge carbon storage capacity, electricity transmission expertise, combined with our engineering expertise, position us as a leading hub for the global development of offshore renewables and CCS technology.
“To keep pace with our potential, we must continue developing our talent and skills supply and we must ensure Scotland has the capacity to deliver the qualified workforce the industry needs.
“There is already a wide spectrum of energy-related courses at colleges and universities across Scotland and we have already made great progress, delivering 500 energy modern apprenticeships annually – as part of our wider annual commitment to create 25,000 MAs each year. We have also been supporting industry-led regional academy projects like TRESTA in Renfrew and the Nigg Skills Academy. Building on this, last year we launched the Energy Skills Challenge Fund which has delivered more than 900 transitional training places to support experienced new entrants to the sector.
“As part of Energy Skills Scotland we will make a capital investment across the Oil and Gas Academy and the wider Energy Technology Partnership and Energy Skills Partnership networks.
“But we know there’s more to do. Energy Skills Scotland has a clear remit to work with employers and training providers across the country, to simplify and improve access to learning and skills provision and broaden the energy workforce, including the huge untapped potential among women.
“First priority for ESS is to help the oil and gas industry address its immediate skills challenges, particularly in the north-east. The Oil & Gas Academy for Scotland, rooted in the north east but with important provision at institutions across the country, will play a key role in meeting those challenges.”
Frank Mitchell, Chair of the Energy Skills Action Group and CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks (Grid), said: “It is critical to maximise the economic benefit for Scotland from the tremendous investment currently underway across the energy sector. Key for this objective is Scotland develops the necessary skilled workforce to meet the demand of high-quality jobs that will be created. As chair of the Energy Skills Action Group, I will ensure that Energy Skills Scotland supports industry to deliver on this objective.”
Prof Sir Jim McDonald, Co-Chair of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and Chair of the Energy Technology Partnership, said: “Energy Skills Scotland is further evidence of investment and collaboration within the Scottish skills system in response to industry demand and the need for highly skilled employees to exploit growth opportunities.”
Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK, added: “Oil & Gas UK welcome the launch of ESS and its potential to bring greatly improved focus on the skills challenges we face as a result of high levels of activity and global competition in our industry. “We look forward to continuing the very constructive engagement we have had with the Scottish Government on ESS and on further developing this initiative in support of our dynamic and important industry.”
A director will be appointed to lead ESS, supported by the Skills Development Scotland network, including an online ESS Gateway – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information on skills and training support available and updated information on skills demands and emerging opportunities across energy sectors.
ESS’s work will build on the Energy Skills Investment Plan launched by the First Minister in March 2011. (http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-story/key-publications/skills-investment-plan-for-the-energy-sector.aspx) The Oil and Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS) will initially be a collaboration between Aberdeen College, Banff & Buchan College, Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen, and augmented over time to include other institutions including Heriot-Watt University and Forth Valley College. ESS is contributing £1.75m along with £673,000 from the Scottish Funding Council for capital infrastructure / equipment in support of OGAS. The oil and gas sector currently provides employment for around 196,000 people in Scotland, while tens of thousands of new jobs are expected to be created by the continued rise in renewable energy production, where, for example, offshore wind has the potential to create up to 28,000 direct jobs over the next decade.
OPITO UK Managing Director Larraine Boorman said: “As the skills body responsible for ensuring the oil and gas industry has a competent, safe and sustainable workforce, we support the Government’s announcement and welcome the opportunity to help develop and drive continued growth within our industry. “Energy Skills Scotland has the potential to be a very strong platform for collaboration and clarity. It is vital that public and private resources are channelled into where they can make the most effective contribution to an industry which is now facing acute skills shortages. “OPITO leads the engagement with employers, Government and academia to facilitate and influence the roll-out of a collaborative industry approach to delivering the skills the industry needs now and in the future. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government to support and augment the skills initiatives already in place.” Gordon McGuinness, Head of Industry, Enterprise and Networks at Skills Development Scotland, said: “We welcome the development of this initiative, as a natural step to build upon existing provision and networks. It will lead towards increased partnership working, with the additional resources concentrating on priority skills issues for employers within the energy sector.” Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, added: “The launch of Energy Skills Scotland provides a real opportunity for the renewable energy industry to attract even more skilled workers to a sector which has created more than 11,000 jobs in Scotland. “By working in collaboration with industry, ESS will be a valuable asset to the renewables sector, which can continue to build on impressive growth by attracting new talent from colleges and universities and by ‘up-skilling’ professionals looking to transition into the industry from other areas.”