UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry has urged Scottish energy businesses to invest in training to attract even more investment in oil and gas and renewables.
Speaking during a visit to the north, Mr Hendry said foreign energy investors were increasingly turning to UK fabrication yards but added these sites needed skilled workers.
Mr Hendry said offshore wind developers had been set a target of at least 50% of their contractors being British-based, and that oil and gas operators were also keen to use UK yards for construction work.
During his visit to the north Mr Hendry met with bosses at Global Energy Group to speak about the company’s Nigg Skills Academy, which has attracted applications from more than 2,500 people hoping to become apprentices. He said: “It is clear that the Highlands and islands had the skilled workforce required in the past, but that has since drifted away.
“There needs to be significant investment to bring these people back on board, and companies like Global Energy Group are trying to do just that with their training academy.”
Mr Hendry said the UK’s oil and gas reserves, as well as the potential for offshore wind, wave and tidal sites around Scotland’s coast, meant the country had some of the best energy resources in Europe.
“These are exceptionally strong resources which must be harnessed, but we want to see the economic benefit as well,” he said.
“There are some outstanding facilities in many parts of Scotland which can now be given a new lease of life because of possibilities in the offshore energy sector, but that will require investment in skills.”
Mr Hendry also met representatives of Falck Renewables, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland industry organisation Energy North.
He is due to visit Shetland today to get an update on the Total’s £2.5billion Laggan-Tormore project, which includes a new gas plant at Sullom Voe.