The Scottish Government is taking further steps to try and ensure workers have the skills needed to adjust and benefit from the energy transition.
Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes delivered the 2021/21 budget in Holyrood earlier in which she pledged billions of pounds to help the country bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It included a commitment to create a Green Jobs Workforce Academy, which will focus on “a national mission for new, good, and green jobs”.
The intention is to create a workforce that is able to “meet the requirements of a just transition” by supporting existing employees to “undertake the necessary upskilling and reskilling” needed to secure low carbon jobs.
Thousands of new positions are expected to be created in Scotland in the coming years as a result of the expected boom in offshore wind.
The continued development of mature technologies, such as onshore wind and solar, as well as tidal and floating wind, is also forecast to play a big part.
Meanwhile, previous forecasts have predicted that the transition to renewable heat could create as many as 17,000 skilled positions over the next decade.
The workforce academy will build on the experience of the National Transition Training Fund (NTTF), which aims to provide help to people employed in “at-risk sectors”.
The announcement was welcomed by industry body Scottish Renewables, which praised it for helping to provide the skills Scotland will “desperately need” in order to fight climate change and capture the “social and economic benefits of doing so”.
Claire Mack, the group’s chief executive said: “The Climate Change Committee has said the UK must quadruple its renewable energy capacity if it is to meet net-zero by 2050. Doing that will mean upskilling, reskilling and educating an army of people for high-quality, sustainable, green jobs of the future.
“The Cabinet Secretary’s announcement is a significant step forward not just for our industry – which will require a large number of skilled employees as we work towards our net-zero target – but also for all those people whose careers are not compatible with net-zero.
“Along with other initiatives already underway the Green Jobs Workforce Academy has the potential to help provide the skills Scotland will desperately need if it is to contribute to the global fight against climate change and capture the social and economic benefits of doing so.”
In total, Ms Forbes announced £2 billion pounds of low carbon investments over the next five years, £165 million of which would come during 2021/22.
It included £1.6bn to “transform heat and energy efficiency” of Scottish buildings and £60m to support the industrial and manufacturing sectors through a green recovery.
Previously announced policies, such as the £62m Energy Transition Fund and £180m Emerging Energy Technologies Fund, were also underpinned.
Despite the pledges, Friends of the Earth Scotland accused the budget of failing to create “shovel-ready” green jobs.
Caroline Rance, a climate campaigner at the group, said: “If the Scottish Government is serious about creating a fairer, greener society as we exit the pandemic then they need to start making the choices and the investments that will deliver that transformative change.
“As it stands, this budget is yet another missed opportunity to drive a green jobs recovery by boosting demand in key areas like energy efficiency, public transport and skills training. Opposition parties must prioritise these areas in negotiations, to ensure the final budget delivers a much needed green recovery.”