Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today announced a further £12 million funding to help people who face losing their jobs in the oil and gas sector, who will be helped to transition into other energy industry and manufacturing employment
The Scottish Government’s Transition Training Fund will help maintain the highly skilled energy workforce in the North Sea region by offering grants to individuals to support their redeployment through retraining or further education. It will also help people with the costs of maintaining any licences they need to work in the sector.
The Transition fund will allow bodies like Skills Development Scotland, in conjunction with the Energy Skills Partnership and Energy Technology Partnership, to provide practical training and education that will help people meet the demand for other specialist jobs in the wider sector.
The new fund will augment the work of the Scottish Government’s Energy Jobs Taskforce, which is already providing support through the PACE process and other measures such as the Adopt an Apprentice initiative.
Sturgeon made the announcement on a visit today in Aberdeen, where she met senior executives of BP and other sector figures before attending the latest meeting of the task force.
She said: “There is no doubt that the conditions facing the North Sea oil and gas sector are extremely challenging and the downturn in the oil prices is having a very real impact on the workforce, with significant and hugely concerning job losses.
“This is not just distressing for those individuals affected; it has a wider impact on the industry, with the risk that the highly skilled workforce is lost to the sector as they look for opportunities elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, oil and gas firms will be helped to sustain growth and compete internationally by developing new innovative technologies, with another package of support announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Scottish Enterprise funding of £10 million will help firms reduce risks associated with carrying out research and development, as well as giving them access to specialist experts who will help them kick-start innovation projects and maintain their global competitiveness.
An additional £2.5 million from Scottish Enterprise will allow firms to implement targeted support from senior industry experts to troubleshoot problems through bespoke business resilience reviews focused on strategic, financial, operational or market issues.
The First Minister also announced that Scottish Enterprise has begun an extensive research project to analyse and understand the extent of gaps in the availability of finance for the oil and gas sector.
Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie said: “We appreciate that the contraction N. Sea in employment is affecting individuals and their families so we welcome the Scottish Government’s Transition Training Fund to help those affected to re-train for other energy and manufacturing jobs, which will strengthen the support already being provided by the Scottish Energy Jobs Task Force.
“This move will also help sustain the energy workforce so that when the oil and gas sector emerges from the downturn, the required skills are in good supply.
“And this long-term approach aligns with the redevelopment of Aberdeen airport aimed at coping with increased passenger numbers which, along with improvements to the tax and licensing regimes, will set the business framework in which the oil and gas industry can achieve an enduring future.”
Christian Allard, SNP MSP for North East Scotland, said: “These new funding announcements are yet another welcome demonstration of the SNP’s strong commitment to our oil and gas industry and the wider North East economy.
“We all know that the North Sea is currently facing challenges –and today’s funds will not only provide further support to firms during difficult times but will provide welcome support for workers who have lost their jobs.”
Mark McDonald, SNP Aberdeen Donside MSP, added: “This new investment comes off the back of the announcement of a major expansion to Aberdeen International Airport – in what is a strong vote of confidence in the economic future of the North East of Scotland.
“It’s clear that the SNP in government is doing everything in our power to support the oil and gas industry and the whole of the North East, but this must be backed up by real action from the UK government – rather than the almost total inaction we’ve seen until now.”