Aberdeen is facing a “challenge not like anything in its history” thanks to a cocktail of the oil and gas downturn, energy transition and dwindling Covid support.
Council leader Jenny Laing gave Aberdeen Journals her estimation of the potential pain which could have hit the city – as she exclusively unveiled part of the local authority’s solution as the “green shoots of recovery” begin to emerge.
In light of what’s been described as a “perfect storm” with the Granite City at the centre, the Labour-led council is hoping to make it easier for those at risk of losing their job to find new work.
Since the pandemic gripped the UK in March 2020, tens of millions of pound in support grants have been paid out by Aberdeen City Council to struggling businesses, families in hardship, those self-isolating and many others to help keep the wolf from the door.
Abz Works – council website aimed at helping Aberdeen into work
And now, the local authority is launching a new website – which staff describe as one-stop online employability shop – in partnership with the Aberdeen Employability Training Providers Forum to showcase available support.
Multimedia site Abz Works will, according to those in the council’s economic development team, help people to secure employment, training and education to put them in a better position in the jobs market.
Aberdeen Labour leader, Mrs Laing, claimed the looming end of the government furlough scheme raised even more questions for the future – with the size of the storm approaching the Granite City as yet unknown.
“Across the country, people are trying to estimate how many jobs will be lost when furlough finishes – it’s difficult to put a figure on it until it happens,” she said.
“Then we will see how businesses are able to react and deal with the costs they have without the government help.
“We have been working behind the scenes to make sure we are putting support in place and this is one element of that.
“Like most places around the country, it is difficult to judge what the landscape will be until we see the end of furlough and its impact.”
Abz Works website tied to Aberdeen’s socio-economic rescue plan
The council leader hopes the new Abz Works resource can offer a breadth of support and opportunity for people hit with redundancy as support dries up.
Drawing on the forum’s broad membership – including Skills Development Scotland, North East Scotland College, North East Sensory Services, CFine, Acvo, and Shmu among others – the project is tied closely to the council’s socio-economic rescue plan, approved last summer.
But it will also be linked to work to change the region’s economy long term, through the city region deal funded projects on food and drink, life sciences and other burgeoning sectors and the hot topic of the moment: the move away from a reliance on oil and gas.
Mrs Laing added: “Aberdeen has been hit particularly hard – something I think we would all recognise – because of the oil and gas downturn and Covid swiftly coming on the back of that.
“Swift action was needed and this is a result of the socio-economic rescue plan we put in place soon after the pandemic arrived on our shores.
“The scale of this challenge is not like anything Aberdeen has ever seen in its history.
“And this downturn has impacted on the city like never before, coupled with the climate emergency, means we have to quickly move towards the energy transition.
“Despite this, Aberdeen remains a city of opportunity and green shoots of recovery are starting to show.
“Job postings are increasing with new jobs coming and businesses hiring again as they move back to business as usual.
“We are not out of the woods, but the predicted number of jobs at risk appears to be dropping.
“We are striving to ensure Aberdeen remains a city of opportunity and that no one is left behind and it’s crucial that we work together to ensure the right support gets to the right people at the right time for them.”
Developed using national funding, the new online resource will offer information, advice, support, and guidance to job seekers of all ages. This will include school pupils considering their careers, people facing or experiencing redundancy, long-term unemployed, families experiencing poverty, including in-work poverty, and information for parents and guardians to help guide their children.