North energy firms have recruited thousands of people in the past two years alone, according to figures published yesterday.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said the region’s energy sector now employed the equivalent of at least 15,000 full-time workers, up from 10,000 in 2011.
The figure includes businesses operating in oil and gas, renewables and nuclear decommissioning.
HIE director for energy and low carbon Calum Davidson said the actual number of people employed in the sector could be higher still, adding: “The Highlands and islands of Scotland have a growing reputation as the energy powerhouse of Europe.
“Their strong legacy in the oil and gas industry and abundance of renewable-energy resources, coupled with excellent infrastructure and a skilled workforce, means the region is ideally placed to be at the fore of the energy industry.”
A geographical breakdown reveals the area with the highest concentration of jobs is the inner Moray Firth – including the Cromarty Firth fabrication yards – representing 3,200-plus people.
More than 2,000 people work for Caithness and Sutherland-based energy companies, while the HIE report also highlights the importance of the sector in Shetland, where 700-plus people work for oil and gas or renewables businesses.
The figures also showed nearly 6,000 people living in the north worked in the North Sea.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland is a world leader in the energy sector and the Highlands and islands are leading the way with a strong workforce. The Highlands and islands are making, and will continue to make a major contribution in delivering Scotland’s energy potential. The expertise, energy infrastructure, and vast renewable-energy potential available in the area have secured thousands of jobs and will continue to see the benefit from our significant energy resources.”