Transition to a Fossil Fuel-free Future (Workforce Skills)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 October 2022.

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Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

7. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to support the workforce skills that are needed to pursue a transition towards a fossil fuel-free future. (S6O-01466)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Supporting Scotland’s current and future workforce to develop the skills that are needed for the net zero transition is a priority for the Government. Our commitment to green skills and a just transition is clearly set out in the national strategy for economic transformation, and we are already making strong progress in that area.

We will update our first climate emergency skills action plan in 2023, and we are working with the skills agencies to ensure that our existing skills programmes are providing people with the skills that employers will need as they move to greener ways of working.

Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

A recent report by Scottish Renewables found that more than 27,000 people in Scotland are directly employed in Scotland’s renewables sector. With fossil fuel supplies likely to be impacted this winter, the need to accelerate the transition to a green future has never been greater.

Will the minister outline what steps the Scottish Government is taking to ensure that the green jobs workforce academy and similar programmes are boosting skills and employment across Scotland, including in my Central Scotland region?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Our green jobs workforce academy has been undertaking good initial and early work. We have been through the design phase, learning from and building on successful existing programmes such as the national transition training fund and the young persons guarantee. That is informing the evidence base for what we need to do in the longer term to support the scale and breadth of work to retain and reskill the workforce so that we can face the challenges that Gillian Mackay has mentioned. Skills Development Scotland has undertaken a detailed impact assessment of the academy to date, which has included drawing out information on the profile of users and sectoral interests. The data is informing the development of the next phase for the academy.

Photo of Sue Webber Sue Webber Conservative

Yesterday, at the Conveners Group meeting, Chris Stark of the United Kingdom Climate Change Committee stated that having a properly skilled workforce and jobs to facilitate the economic transition to net zero is the top issue.

The eco-house project at West Lothian College is a prime example of the college sector and Government funding working together to upskill Scotland and pursue a transition to a fossil fuel-free future. It will see the development at the Livingston campus of two semi-detached houses, which will form a state-of-the-art training facility in the heart of West Lothian to support the development of skills and knowledge and provide practical experience in sustainable construction methods and efficient and effective renewable energy, all underpinned by current and new technologies. It is a prime example of what the Scottish Government, the college sector and the private sector should be doing to meet the challenges that our country faces in tackling climate change. Will the minister commit to providing funding to replicate that innovative and ground-breaking eco-house project throughout Scotland?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

We support the college sector to support local communities and local economies to respond directly to that challenge in a creative fashion, as is happening at West Lothian College.

The work that is being done at West Lothian College is obviously a very good example of what is happening, and it is to be commended for that. However, if the member were to go to Borders College, she would see what it is doing to support that transition through the science, technology, engineering and mathematics centre that it has constructed. If she were to go to any college in the country, she would see a range of such activity. That activity is already happening, and we will get behind it and support it as best we can.