Plans announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday for a new energy jobs task force have been welcomed by industry and business bodies.
Ms Sturgeon said on a visit to offshore energy services business SeaEnergy in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, that the recent plunge in the price of a barrel of Brent Crude posed a threat to “a number of jobs”.
The new Scottish Government task force will work to maintain posts in the oil and gas industry and mitigate the impact of any redundancies.
The SNP leader also announced a guarantee for Modern Apprentices designed to help young people who could be left out of work.
Last night, Oil and Gas UK Chief Executive Malcolm Webb praised the government’s “constructive contribution” and said the industry body would take part in the task force.
Colin Crosby, chairman of business development body Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) said he was “keen” to see how the initiative will develop.
Earlier, Ms Sturgeon said: “The jobs task force is going to be very focused on working with the sector to maintain employment levels during the period of low oil prices.
“There is a very specific guarantee at the heart of what we are wanting to do for apprentices in the oil and gas sector where we are giving a guarantee that any apprentice faced with redundancy will be supported into alternative employment and the Scottish Government will incentivise an alternative employer to the tune of £5,000 to take on that apprentice.
“Where that is not possible, we will guarantee off job training because when you are dealing with a sector that has such a strong past and such a strong future ahead of it it is really important above all else that the young skilled workers of the future are protected and supported.”
Ms Sturgeon would not put a figure on how much funding the Scottish Government would provide nationally, but said it would back the scheme “to whatever level is required”.
She said there are more than 2,000 apprentices currently working in the oil and gas sector.
Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson, who will lead the new task force, said: “The energy industry as a whole is crucial to the Scottish economy with the oil and gas sector alone supporting almost 2,000 Scottish supply chain companies and 225,000 jobs across the country.”
The SNP has also called on the UK Government to make changes to the tax regime by creating a general investment allowance for fields that are more expensive to develop.
The party also wants a phased reversal of Chancellor George Osborne’s infamous “tax grab” in 2011 when the supplementary charge on profits went up from 20% to 32%.
The third part of the SNP plan is an exploration tax credit for smaller companies to boost activity in the North Sea.