Oil and gas workers are being let down by a lack of leadership from the Scottish Government over a transition to new “greener” jobs, a north-east MSP has claimed.
Mercedes Villalba accused ministers of “inaction” after leaving the industry to sort out its own problems with skills transferability and standardising training.
The Labour MSP recently met with green skills minister Lorna Slater to discuss the introduction of an offshore training “passport” to make it easier for workers to move into new jobs.
But said she was told senior Holyrood politicians have no formal role in terms of existing UK and Scottish employment and skills legislation.
That is despite Ms Slater saying in October that offshore training passports were “something she has been looking into” as part of her portfolio.
‘Prohibitive’ costs holding workers back
We reported previously that workers face “prohibitive” costs and “fragmented” training as they look to transfer their skills.
Research from Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK revealed oil and gas workers are paying over £1,800 on average in training costs.
Nearly two-thirds received no financial support from their employers to cover the costs.
In her letter to Ms Slater, Mercedes Villalba said she is “concerned” the industry has been left to mark its own homework.
She believes it has so far failed to address the problems, which have only been “exacerbated by market failure.”
Ms Villalba wrote: “You say that ministers have no formal role in terms of existing UK and Scottish employment and skills legislation but I believe that the Scottish Government has a crucial role to play in both driving forward progress on this issue and holding industry to account.
“That’s why I was particularly disappointed that you have ruled out providing Parliament with regular updates on the progress of skills transferability and a statement on the Scottish Government’s vision of standardisation for the offshore sector.
“Given that the Scottish Government regularly provides warm words on the need for a
just transition, offshore oil and gas workers will rightly be disappointed by the lack of
political leadership from Scottish ministers on making a just transition a reality.”
North-east communities paying the price
A recent survey by SNP MSP Gillian Martin found just one in 10 oil and gas workers felt they had enough opportunities to switch to work in renewables.
Issues raised included the high costs associated with retraining, duplication of certificate requirements and a lack of information on job opportunities and support.
“It is my view that the Scottish Government is failing to support these workers by its inaction on the need for an offshore training passport,” Ms Villalba said.
“This inaction is further compounded by the lack of information on the £500 million Just Transition Fund for the north-east and Moray, and the Green Jobs Workforce Academy being nothing more than a referral site to job adverts and training courses.
“If the Scottish Government continues to fail to act, it will be workers and communities
in the north-east of Scotland who will pay the price.
“That’s why I would urge you to reconsider your stance on these issues as a matter of urgency.”
Ministers welcome statement of intent
The Scottish Government said it is “committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2045 and transforming Scotland into a fairer, greener and more prosperous country”.
It said this is why it has committed £2 billion in low carbon funding “to invest in new measures to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change and create green jobs”.
Ministers have welcomed a statement of intent from skills bodies to reduce transition barriers for the offshore workforce.