With COP26 coming to Glasgow later this year, demonstrating a leading effort in sustainability and the energy transition has never been more important to Scotland. Yet despite the innovation and drive behind Scotland’s green efforts, barriers to renewable jobs are causing a talent gap impacting the sustainable jobs market and will likely begin to hinder the country’s sustainable progress in the future.
Despite Scotland’s need for more of the highly skilled workforce to turn their expertise into sustainable projects, the barriers these workers face are moving from oil and gas to renewable jobs far too difficult.
The success of Scotland’s energy transition could scupper altogether as workers take their talent to other sectors that are more welcoming of their experience.
A recent survey of offshore workers conducted by Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK found that the vast majority of offshore workers have worries about the cost of training courses.
Many already spend a lot of their own money on training and other expenses to work offshore. Another barrier and frustration flagged in the survey are that offshore workers are out of pocket by thousands to duplicate qualifications they already hold.
Not only is this a significant waste of time in a sector that needs to be moving quickly towards a net-zero goal, but it’s also creating a skills gap that Scotland can’t afford to have if it wants to remain a world leader in sustainability.
Removing these barriers to renewable jobs must be a top priority for Scotland. To narrow the growing skills gap and keep Scotland’s sustainable agenda progressing, skills developed in oil and gas must be recognised as easily transferable to renewables by this job market. We cannot continue to expect workers to pay expensive training fees when their experience and skills should already speak for themselves.
Promises of green jobs and opportunities mean very little to workers when this pattern of costly and inefficient training restricts them from moving between sectors. Scottish energy workers are being seriously undervalued by the renewables sector and will cost Scotland dearly if not corrected.
Businesses and the government must agree on a more regulated and fair solution on this issue to make recruitment in the renewables sector far more efficient and fair. If changes can be swift, there is a great opportunity for businesses to benefit from the addition of experienced talent in their ranks.
Ensuring easy job transitions for offshore workers is the only way Scotland can narrow the green skills gap. Protecting these crucial jobs and retaining vital skills within the Scottish jobs market needs to be a priority in the energy sector.
Make no mistake, highly skilled and experienced workers will take their expertise to other sectors that understand their value. Now more than ever we need an energy transformation without barriers. One that supports sustainable economic growth as well as providing jobs that allows Scotland to continue to lead in renewable energy and sustainability on a global stage.
In short, individuals and businesses alike must now recognise that any contribution, great or small, against climate change is a step in the right direction to driving the energy transition. To support green jobs and projects in Scotland, and around the world, we must all take responsibility for the positive contributions we can make now.