Roadmap for Energy Skills Transition Secures Backing from Wind, Oil & Gas Sectors

Source: 5/23/2024, Location: Europe

Energy industry leaders have aligned on a roadmap for a prototype ‘energy skills passport’ to enable cross-sector recognition of energy industry expertise and training.

Delivery on the commitment to a ‘skills passport’ was set out in both the North Sea Transition Deal and Offshore Wind Sector Deal struck between industry and the UK government.

The passport is intended to show both workers and employers how skills and qualifications can be recognised by employers across sectors such as oil and gas and offshore wind. The ability for workers to move smoothly around all parts of the energy mix, from jobs in the oil and gas sector to specialist roles in wind and other areas of the energy transition, can help preserve and expand the UK’s homegrown energy industry and speed the transition process.

There are currently thousands of skilled workers in the UK oil and gas sector and this is set to decline in the decades ahead, while the growing UK offshore wind industry already employs 32,000 people and that number is expected to rise to over 100,000 by 2030.

Industry training bodies estimate the total number of jobs in energy production will reach 211,000 by 2030[3] and the passport could be adapted for other sectors to help the UK and devolved nations meet their net zero targets.

Energy industry leaders are keen to ensure these new jobs go to UK workers with relevant skills from a variety of sectors which means a framework for recognition of specialist expertise must be agreed.

Oil and gas production in the UK is now declining by around 12% a year. Research commissioned by Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) showed that 90% per cent of oil and gas industry workers have skills which can be transferred to new offshore jobs in renewable energy.

A cross-sector partnership comprising Offshore Energies UK, RenewableUK, OPITO, Global Wind Organisation (GWO) and representatives from oil and gas and offshore wind energy sector employers alongside government, trade union, trade and skills bodies, have contributed expertise to the skills passport project.

The industry-led project has been supported by £3.7 million in funding from the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund to OPITO, reflecting the particular importance of the offshore energy transition for Scotland.

The focus of the passport project is on the alignment of technical qualifications and the mapping of safety standards, the creation of career pathways for relevant roles, and a mechanism for employers and employees to understand recognised standards.

It has resulted in the creation of career pathway information for over thirty oil and gas roles and entry routes into the wind industry leading to roles such as maintenance technician, commissioning technician, high-voltage senior authorised person and troubleshooting technician.

GWO and OPITO are continuing to collaborate to develop career pathways for the highest priority roles in offshore wind which will be finalised later this year. This will mean workers can easily identify the further qualifications and training they need to apply for such jobs.

Further refinements, including user-testing of the new mechanism, are scheduled in the summer and autumn before a final version is made freely available later this year.

RenewableUK and OEUK will now look to identify other potential areas of work that could further support the transition of workers between sectors.

RenewableUK's Executive Director of Offshore Wind Jane Cooper said: "We are strongly committed to easing the transfer of workers from different parts of the energy sector into renewables. Offshore wind companies need to attract oil and gas workers with valuable experience and transferable skills into our sector. We will continue to work with a wide range of partners and colleagues from other organisations to achieve this, enabling highly skilled people to find new career opportunities in the transition to clean power".

OEUK Supply Chain and People Director Katy Heidenreich said: “The UK's energy future hinges upon the expertise of our exceptional offshore workforce. The creation of the skills passport will help take full advantage of worker experience and capabilities while ensuring the preservation of jobs and communities nationwide. A skilled future, secure energy, and a sustainable journey to net zero – that is what our people represent. That is what our people can deliver with the right support and cross-sector mobility.”

Scottish Government Minister for Climate Action, Gillian Martin said: “I welcome this progress by industry on developing an Offshore Skills Passport for Scotland’s oil and gas workers. Our valued and highly skilled offshore energy workforces play a vital role in the transition to renewable energy sources and the passport will play an important role in supporting this. We urge industry partners to further develop and roll-out this initiative at pace.”

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