First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a new Energy Jobs Taskforce will be established to support Scotland’s oil and gas sector.
The new Taskforce, chaired by Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson, will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and will focus on supporting jobs across the energy sector, but with an initial emphasis on the oil and gas sector.
The First Minister also announced a guarantee for Modern Apprentices (MAs) in Scotland’s oil and gas sector to ensure that any faced with redundancy will be offered alternative employment or continued off the job training pending alternative employment.
Additional support will be made available specifically to the oil and gas sector to enhance the offer available through the Adopt an Apprentice programme, which offers firms incentives to re-employ MAs who have been made redundant.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Energy is an area where Scotland has a strong comparative advantage with its unique geographic opportunities and established expertise. This has led to the development of world leading technologies and skills in our oil and gas industry.
“The North Sea has made an enormous contribution to the Scottish and UK economies over the last 40 years. It is now vital, in order to prolong the life of the industry beyond 2050 and maximise economic benefits, that the UK Government maintains the momentum for fiscal and regulatory change in the oil and gas sector.
“I’ve seen for myself how Scottish companies such as Sea Energy Ltd are continuing to see success by signing major overseas deals. This is reassuring and I applaud its, and Scottish Enterprise’s, hard work to secure such contracts.
“It is vitally important that we continue to develop the skills of the young women and men that have already identified oil and gas as their careers of choice,” Sturgeon said.
“However, the recent drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil, combined with the mismanagement of oil and gas fiscal policy by the UK Government, and other challenges facing the industry, pose a threat to a number of jobs.
“That’s why I have established the Energy Jobs Taskforce, to make sure that partners are working across the sector both to maintain jobs and to mitigate the potential impact of any losses.
“I have asked that the first meeting of the Taskforce to be held by the end of January, and I have no doubt that under the leadership of Lena Wilson, this will be positive for the industry.”
Lena Wilson said: “I am delighted to have been asked by the First Minister to chair the energy jobs task force. The energy industry as a whole is crucial to the Scottish Economy with the oil and gas sector alone supporting almost 2000 Scottish supply chain companies and 225,000 jobs across the country. This is why our initial focus will be on oil and gas and the current challenges facing contractors and employees.”
The First Minister added: “The oil and gas industry is a real success story for Scotland and will continue to be in the years ahead that is why we need to develop our skills base and support apprentices in the sector.
“It is vitally important that we continue to develop the skills of the young women and men that have already identified oil and gas as their careers of choice.
“I am delighted to confirm that we will provide an increase in the financial incentive that will enable firms to re-employ any modern apprentice in the industry who faces redundancy and where necessary allow them to continue with their off job training.
“I hope this practical proposal provides real reassurance to apprentices in the sector.
“However, we also need to see the UK act now and respond to the requests to provide the tax changes that will help support the industry through this period.”
The First Minister also confirmed that the second meeting of the travelling Cabinet will be held in Aberdeen on February 16. This will include a meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board.
The First Minister said: “Next month, I will bring my Cabinet to Aberdeen. I expect all Cabinet Secretaries will be out and about speaking to the community and those in industry, to establish what more can be usefully done over the coming months.
“I will also co-chair a meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board meeting, bringing Ministers, academics and industry experts together to get a clear understanding of the issues facing the sector in Scotland.
“We will shortly be announcing details of the public discussion and I want to hear from as many people as possible, I encourage people to take up the invitation and make their views heard to the Cabinet.”