Labour to propose offshore skills passport

A Labour government would create an offshore skills passport to allow workers to move between fossil fuels and renewables.

Offshore workers may currently need to duplicate training when moving between the two sectors, increasing costs and the length of time it takes to change jobs.

But speaking to workers and businesses in Aberdeen on Wednesday, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray has pledged to work with the Scottish Government to introduce the policy, if Labour wins the election on July 4.

Work has already begun between oil and gas training body OPITO and the National Energy Skills Accelerator (Nesa) with £5 million of Scottish Government funding to create an Energy Skills Passport.

Ian Murray
The shadow Scottish secretary will visit Aberdeen on Wednesday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ahead of the visit to the north east of Scotland, he said: “Oil and gas jobs are going to be with us for decades to come.

“Labour will support our world class, world leading offshore workforce with the recognition they deserve and support the transition to renewables jobs in the future.

“The industry is rightly asking for a plan for jobs, and this is a part of delivering that.

“This is an area the UK Government and Scottish Government can and should work in partnership to deliver for Scotland and harness the potential we have to truly lead the world in renewables jobs.

“It should be easier to switch between oil and gas and renewables work offshore.

“The present situation, where training in one industry isn’t recognised in the other, cuts off opportunities for oil and gas workers. The fact some workers are paying out of their own pockets is scandalous.”

The policy would “cut red tape”, he added, and would allow offshore workers to “move flexibly back and forth between both industries in the years and decades to come”.

But Andrew Bowie, the Tory candidate for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said the best way to ensure the oil and gas jobs in Scotland transition to renewables is by “showing Labour the door — before they get the chance to turn off the taps overnight”.

“Keir Starmer doesn’t understand what’s already happening in the energy industry, or the economic carnage his plans will create in the North East,” he added.

“Yes, the SNP have failed to give offshore workers the springboard they need to work in renewables, shown by the tiny number of Scots who say they work in that sector.

“Skills passports are one part of the solution, and that’s why the cross-industry group OPITO is already engaging on a UK-wide basis, to look at how technical and safety standards can align.

“It’s already happening in Aberdeen and I don’t think Labour has any acumen to add to what experts are already doing.”

Former SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn meanwhile said: “In news that will shock thousands, the Labour Party pay so little attention to the North East that they don’t even seem to know that the Scottish Government is already funding the development of a skills passport.”

He added: “Given that, what the Labour Party should be announcing today is a withdrawal of their destructive energy plans that would see up to 100,000 job cuts – the SNP will continue to oppose those plans and put Scotland’s interest first.

“We need the economy of the North East to thrive for decades to come and that only happens if we utilise the skills and wealth of talent within the oil and gas sector to power and develop our huge renewables potential.

“If we don’t get the transition right or follow the plans of the Labour Party then we will lose out on investment to other countries across the globe – that would be a betrayal of Scotland’s energy potential.”