The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in Scotland (Alliance Scotland) has urged the Scottish Government to take a “leap of faith” to help it reach its target of having all of the country’s electricity generated from renewable energy by 2020.
It highlighted an ageing workforce and existing skill gaps and shortages as issues that, if not properly addressed, could seriously hamper future growth in the green-energy sector.
A low transfer rate of skills from a currently buoyant oil and gas industry and the take-up of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects in schools, colleges and universities were among other concerns raised. Alliance Scotland, the employer voice on skill issues north of the border, was giving its response to an inquiry into the government’s renewable-energy targets.
The Scottish Parliament economy, energy and tourism committee consultation ends today.
Industry body Scottish Renewables has identified the potential for more than 28,000 full-time equivalent jobs to be created in the offshore wind sector alone, with indirect and knock-on effects generating an additional 20,000 jobs by 2020.
Alliance Scotland said it recognised the government’s commitment to deliver apprenticeship and training places in the sector but it needed to take a leap of faith and build on up-front investments to make sure there was a suitably skilled workforce.”
Predicting the precise scale of future growth in the renewable-energy sector remained a challenge but investment in skill development was needed now because offshore wind was likely to take off in 2014-15, it added. It also called on the government to look into whether firms aiming to take advantage of Scotland’s renewable-energy resources might be encouraged to source some of their workforce from the local job market or give a commitment to local skill development.
In addition, it urged the government to encourage both the greater take-up of Stem subjects and more “positive, high quality” advice for young people on Stem-related careers.
Alliance Scotland director Jacqui Hepburn said: “The alliance is strongly supportive of the government’s renewable-energy targets as a key driver for the future development of the industry in Scotland, with potentially significant associated opportunities for employment and economic development.”