A crunch on the ability of firms to find skills for oil and gas and renewable energy are a “significant threat,” Aberdeen business leaders have warned.
Reporting to a room full of industry reps on Tuesday, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) CEO Russell Borthwick highlighted that firms’ confidence in finding these skills has dropped by half in the last 12 months.
He was outlining a key point in the chamber and accountancy firm KPMG’s Energy Transition survey, now in its 19th year.
“This is a significant threat to the region and to the nation in realising our ambitions in becoming a global renewable energy hub.”
According to the survey, 55% of respondents in April 2022 were very or extremely confident of finding oil and gas skills.
A year on, that’s down to 30%, the survey said on Aberdeen energy skills.
Meanwhile confidence in finding renewable energy skills has halved from 34% to 17%.
Early retirement and staff leaving the sector are among the main drivers.
“An ageing workforce needs to be mitigated by improving the narrative and efforts to attract young people into the industry,” said Mr Borthwick.
“There are some positive initiatives like the national energy skills accelerator and the skills passport.
“But of course, the other side of the equation is we need to make sure the jobs are there for them to go into.”
Bellwether of the just transitionMairi McAllan, Scottish cabinet secretary for Net Zero, spoke at the Douglas Hotel event, making the case for a “just transition”.
“Fundamentally, the successful transition of the oil and gas industry to renewable energy, I think, will be the bellwether of a just transition in Scotland.
“We can’t wait until decline in the basin is acute, we have to act now, we have to act to seize the opportunities and mitigate what I absolutely acknowledge are a plethora of risks.”
Ms McAllan said the report – in which respondents said neither UK or Scottish party have the best policies in place for delivering the transition – shows more work is needed from Holyrood and Westminster.
She said she is “keenly aware the business relationship with the government of which I am part has not always been as strong as we would like it to be”.
“The report from the Chamber demonstrates that both the UK and Scottish Governments have to work to rebuild these relationships and ensure that we are good partners to business.”
Ms McAllan highlighted the work of the Scottish Government’s £500m Just Transition fund and its £75m Energy Transition fund to support initiatives including the Energy Transition Zone and Global Underwater Hub.
She urged UK policymakers to deliver greater funds for supply chain to deliver the energy transition, given the powerhouse policies seen in the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and EU Green Deal which have delivered overseas regions the “compettiive advantage”.
“I have to call on the UK Government to similarly respond to make sure the UK as a whole does not miss out.
“Because we do have the skills, experience and natural resources to be a powerhouse of a green energy future and we really mustn’t get left behind on that.”