A north-east engineer made redundant from his job in the oil and gas industry today dismissed the Scottish’s Government’s scheme to support retraining as a “publicity stunt”.
John Westwood said he had faced “obstacles and barriers at every turn” in his attempt to access the £12million Transition Training Fund.
It is aimed at helping oil and gas workers apply their skills to other areas of the energy sector and beyond.
But Elgin-based Mr Westwood, 48, who lost his job in December, said the requirement that an employment offer was in place prior to a grant being confirmed meant the policy was of no help.
He wrote to the Press and Journal to vent his “frustration and disappointment” after reading an article by Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig in which he hailed the fund.
Mr Westwood, who was a senior survey engineer at Subsea 7 but is looking to move into the whisky industry, said that when he first read about the scheme he thought it would suit his circumstances perfectly.
But he said: “I feel like it’s not the right approach to say ‘if you give me a job we can get this course for free’.
He insisted the contract should have nothing to do with the employer, adding: “It should be between me and the government.”
Rather than supporting the individual transfer into another career, he said the system was effectively providing firms with free training opportunities.
He added: “I have never asked for help before, but right now I need a little bit of help and this caveat makes this fund unreachable.
“It’s a great idea but it is merely a publicity stunt as far as I am concerned.”
Mr Westwood, who has a daughter starting university this year, said he understood the need to ensure the money gets to the right people.
He also accepted the concern that individuals might access the fund and then return to the oil and gas sector further down the line.
But he insisted the government could protect against this through other caveats, including having to pay the money back if you return to the industry within a certain time period.
He added that he would be willing to part-fund his general certificate in distilling course by way of proving his commitment.