The next few years for the renewable energy sector will look very different from the decade just passed! At a recent event dubbed ‘Green Energy Day’ or ‘Energy Security Day’, the UK Government unveiled its plans for ‘Powering-up-Britain’ by sharing its package of green energy policies aimed at fast-tracking the UK’s net zero target whilst also ensuring a balanced energy mix to ensure security of supply.
The so called ‘energy-trilemma’, providing secure, affordable and lower-carbon energy, clearly presents governments, suppliers and consumers alike with a whole raft of difficult decisions. The Russian / Ukraine conflict has exacerbated the challenge of the ‘energy-trilemma’, but also the rapidity and speed with which to decarbonise the currently much-needed supplies of traditional energy sources in order to deliver energy security. Clearly, this is a necessity, however, if at all possible, it must be done without derailing the journey and momentum towards net zero. The offshore wind energy sector is beginning to boom globally as a means of introducing new, large-scale electricity generation, jobs, investment and economic prosperity to key regions.
Over £170 billion is projected to be invested on capital and operating activities in the UK offshore energy sector between now and in the run up to 2030, including on oil and gas, offshore wind, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen.
Robert Gordon University’s UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review highlighted that around 200,000 skilled people will be needed in the UK offshore energy industry to ensure delivery in 2030. The review also envisaged that the offshore energy workforce is expected to change significantly, with career opportunities in the offshore renewables sector increasing by almost two thirds (65%) of the sector’s roles in 2030. The report also highlighted that over 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workforce have medium to high skills transferability and are well positioned to work in adjacent energy sectors.
Companies in the energy sector are always looking for employees with relevant commercial and project management skills and have consistently looked to take on construction management, surveying and project management graduates to fill that need. RGU is well positioned to support the emerging offshore renewables sector and is working closely with industry to ensure we offer relevant training to help grow skilled graduates for this future workforce.
RGU in Aberdeen not only recognises the importance of the developing and global energy sector, but it is also seeking to equip future professionals with the necessary competency led education and transferable skills desired by the emerging energy sectors of offshore wind, CCUS and hydrogen, and also the existing sector of oil and gas.
Developed and taught by a blended combination of academics and industry leaders, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABA) accredited courses at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment in Construction & Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Procurement/ Supply Chain Management, align with these professional body’s competency frameworks and can be delivered in an online distance learning mode. This provides students complete flexibility to study anywhere in the world and also allows them to maintain study if their work moves them internationally or indeed offshore.
Additionally, certain of RGU’s courses can be completed in stages – Continuing Professional Development top up modules if you will, Post Graduate Certificate, Post Graduate Diploma or the full time MSc for example.
For those prospective candidates considering undertaking the professionally accredited courses, the benefits are clear. The courses instill invaluable working knowledge, understanding and application of key business skills such as commercial business dynamics, negotiation, commercial project management, risk assessment, management and supply chain vulnerability, corporate fit for purpose governance, value creation, contract performance management, contract strategy development.
The theory behind these skills is sufficiently broad so that they are easily transferable across all the energy sector disciplines – upstream, midstream, downstream. This ensures that the graduates’ skills will continue to be in demand and utilised in the years ahead.
Investing in ‘upskilling’ current employees is one of the best ways for companies to get people with the expertise they need and by liaising closely with the energy industry, the Scott Sutherland School is ensuring that it is developing courses geared specifically towards producing employees with the perfect blended set of construction and commercial skills which are portable and can be applied to different strands of the energy sector, whether that is oil and gas, renewables or decommissioning work. By doing this, we are helping to build the renewable skills needed for a sustainable future.
Professor Norman McLennan is an energy industry veteran, director of COES Caledonia Ltd, and a visiting professor at RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture.