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Think tank warns Aberdeen must focus on new industries to stave off ‘vulnerabilities’ of oil and gas sector

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Aberdeen should focus on attracting new innovative industries if the region wants create jobs and stave off “vulnerabilities” created by the oil and gas sector, an economic think than has said.

Centre for Cities, a UK urban policy research unit, warned that the city must grow new sectors to ensure the “future prosperity” of the city and the north-east of Scotland.

It comes as the think tank released data showing a 6% increase in unemployment claims in the Granite City, compared to the pre-lockdown level of 2.7%.

The new figures also showed that from March to July there were 31.8% of jobs in Aberdeen which were being supported by the UK Government Job Retention Scheme (JRS).

Centre for Cities statistics show that the city experienced a stark increase in unemployment claims in April, with claims by young adults also sharply rising.

Nearly half of Aberdeen’s working population have high skilled jobs and qualifications, the body said.

The north-east has experienced thousands of job losses in the oil and gas sector since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the double whammy of low oil prices and projects being put on hold.

Centre for Cities’ director of policy and research, Paul Swinney, said: “While oil and gas does not appear to have been affected by the current crisis, Aberdeen is vulnerable to a downturn in the industry in the future.

“This is why trying to attract and grow new industries to compliment the current strengths in oil and gas is so important for the future prosperity of Aberdeen and the wider north-east Scotland economy.

“Covid-19 shows the dangers of being over reliant on one industry, and places like Crawley, the home of Gatwick airport, are feeling the impact of that currently.”

Earlier this year, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) warned up to 30,000 jobs may be lost by October 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and oil price crash.

In August, fellow trade body Decom North Sea wrote to UK energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng warning that 10,000 jobs could be lost between then and the end of this year, based on a recent member survey.

A £62 million Scottish Government funding package has been announced to help the industry make a green recovery.

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