Environmental campaigners and trade unions welcomed plans from the offshore training industry to reduce duplication in certification standards, but pressed for detail on timing and delivery.
It comes as training body OPITO, the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) and the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), announced this week they would align efforts to identify duplicate training and to create new guidance aimed at enabling workforce mobility.
With the support of RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables, the organisations said they would also map out pathways for decision-makers.
It follows significant pressure from workers and campaign groups to reduce costs and make it easier for workers to move from oil and gas to renewables.
Campaigners including Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform and RMT Scotland today said these efforts must lead to new standards in the offshore energy sector “recognised by all operators.”
They called for workers and trade unions to be involved in the process of identifying duplication and demanded a “commitment” from OPITO and GWO to remove duplication once it has been identified by creating an “offshore training passport.”
They argue that this system would ensure standards in the offshore energy sector were “readily transferable” by creating recognition between oil and gas and renewables.
Currently, oil workers say they often have to pay to repeat similar training courses to get jobs in offshore wind – a situation unions say is a major barrier to accelerating a “just transition” for the workforce.
A 2021 survey by the campaigners found that offshore workers paid on average £1,800 a year in training costs. The survey reported that nearly 97% of workers were concerned about training costs and found “near complete” support for an offshore training passport scheme.
Platform’s just transition campaigner Rosemary Harris added that after “years of false starts” the announcement of collaboration on reducing duplication is “certainly a sign of progress.”
“However, the proof is in the delivery. The minimum we expect is for workers and their trade unions to be involved in identifying shared requirements for work offshore, rather than a focus on the existing training courses, and then creating a system to align these once complete through an Offshore Training Passport,” she added.
RMT regional organiser and chair of the Offshore Coordinating Group, Jake Molloy said unions “cautiously welcome” the news.
“Anything which will enable our members to transition around the offshore energy sector without having to pay for training must be considered a good thing.”
“I say ‘cautiously’ as the real test for this initiative will be the energy industry embracing this across the oil and gas, wind, maritime and other sectors.
“To this end, we will be seeking assurances around the involvement of the Trade Unions and the wider workforce to provide a degree of independent analysis around what constitutes “duplication” with a view to reaching a collaborative, inclusive agreement. We are also keen to see a clear timeline for delivery of the passport concept.”
He also said the “full support” of governments at Westminster and Holyrood would be welcomed, as it would be “tangible and meaningful” initiatives like these that deliver on the “political rhetoric” of a “Just Transition”.
“We will continue to push for the earliest possible adoption of the Offshore Skills and Training Passport,” Mr Molloy added.