With traditional, carbon-based industries and jobs fast disappearing, it’s imperative, for both Scotland’s net-zero ambitions and the creation of sustainable, high-skill careers, that we have a well-trained workforce ready to face our new decarbonised economy.

The post-carbon world

Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) is already ahead of the pack in that regard, training and preparing a new generation of students for the post-carbon world.

Central to RGU’s ambition is its recently published UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review, which highlights that the offshore energy workforce mix will change significantly in the next 10 years, with roles in decarbonised energies projected to increase from 20% to 65% of all jobs in the offshore energy sector (oil & gas, offshore wind, carbon capture utilisation and storage and hydrogen).

The Review also indicates that over 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workforce have medium to high skills transferability and are well-positioned to work in adjacent energy sectors.

Review into reality

The Review calls for the UK and the devolved Governments to work together with the offshore energy industry and further and higher education sector to ensure the managed transition of skills and experience in a way that protects and sustains key UK energy jobs.

Key findings from the review suggested that around 100,000 (c 50%) of energy sector jobs in 2030 are projected to be filled by people transferring from existing oil and gas jobs to offshore renewable roles, new graduates, and new recruitment from outside the existing UK offshore energy sector.

The opportunities for the UK energy supply chain and for jobs are significant, with over £170 billion investment to be made in capital and operating activities in the UK offshore energy sector over the next ten years. The review shows that around 200,000 skilled people are expected to be required in the UK offshore energy industry to ensure delivery in 2030. However, it also highlights the consequences of not delivering the ambitions set by governments and industry and the associated impact on jobs.

Looking ahead, the Review found: 

  • Around 200,000 people are likely to be required in 2030 to underpin the developing offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage as well as the vital ongoing oil and gas activities in the UK offshore energy sector. This compares to around 160,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the UK offshore energy sector in 2021.
  • The offshore energy workforce mix is expected to change with over 65% of the workforce by 2030 projected to support low carbon energy activities.
  • Of the c. 200,000 people projected to be directly and indirectly employed in the UK offshore energy sector by 2030. c. 90,000 (c. 45%) are expected to support offshore wind, c. 70,000 (c. 35%) oil and gas, and c. 40,000 (c. 20%) other offshore-related energy projects and clusters.

Delivering a just transition

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, Richard Lochhead, states: “We are committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change and doing so in a way that is fair for all, ensuring a green recovery and a just transition that supports good green jobs, skills and expertise and leaves no-one behind.

“The re-deployment and, where necessary, re-training of oil and gas workers will be key to ensuring a just transition over the next decade, and to meeting the labour and skills needs of a growing renewables sector.”

Setting a fresh course

Building on its heritage in what was historically the UK’s ‘oil capital,’ RGU already offers an extensive course and degree portfolio to current and prospective students. RGU’s current energy-related course offerings are evolving to complement and augment the climate emergency and net-zero narrative.

Over 60% of RGU’s course portfolio will incorporate a net-zero narrative by 2023, rising to 100% by 2025.

Progress to date has seen the introduction of innovating new courses. The University offers the first and only postgraduate course of its kind in the UK focusing on solar as a renewable energy. Other courses include MBA Sustainability and Energy Transitions, MSc/LLM in Oil, Gas and Renewable Energy Law and a short online course in Sustainable Development.

It is part of RGU’s strategic aim to grow its globally recognised impactful research and target areas where its expertise can make the greatest impact. From examining the benefits of green infrastructure to reducing the environmental impact of rural public transport and delivering critical subsea solutions, researchers at RGU are contributing to delivering Net Zero solutions in Scotland and beyond.

The most significant of these is its investment in the National Subsea Centre. With more than 45,000 employees and 650 companies, the £7.5billion subsea industry represents a huge opportunity for cutting-edge research and innovation.

For further information on study and career options available at Robert Gordon University, visit: https://www.rgu.ac.uk/

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