Just Transition (North-east Stakeholder Discussions)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 September 2023.

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Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

5. To ask the Scottish Government for its response to the Robert Gordon University report, “Powering up the Workforce”.

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

The Robert Gordon University report shows Scotland’s enormous energy potential and demonstrates that we possess—[

Interruption

.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I am sorry—will the cabinet secretary resume her seat?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Sorry, Ms Nicoll—while I was looking at another issue, my attention was drawn to the fact that the question that you asked is not the question that appears in the

Business Bulletin

. [

Interruption

.] Ms Nicoll needs to read out the question that she has asked per the

Business Bulletin

, so perhaps one of her colleagues could helpfully provide her with that.

Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

I have it now. My apologies.

To ask the Scottish Government when it last met with stakeholders in the north-east to discuss its just transition strategy. (S6O-02572)

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

In my role as cabinet secretary, I have the pleasure of spending a great deal of time in the north-east. Most recently, I was there on 15 September—two Fridays ago. Among the visits that I undertook were visits to those who are currently in receipt of funding from the Scottish Government via the just transition fund. Those included helping to launch the energy transition skills hub with North East Scotland College in the energy transition zone, which is in receipt of £4.5 million from the just transition fund and which will help 1,000 people into energy transition jobs over the next five years.

I also had the opportunity to visit Camphill school, where I learned about its Murtle market project, which helps young people and children with complex needs to develop skills for the transition. I am pleased that we were able to support that financially as well.

Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

The Rosebank project has been given the go-ahead. Although the oil and gas industry continues to make a significant contribution to our economy, it is clear that we must balance our future energy needs with our climate obligations—critically, ensuring a fair and just transition to net zero for our workforce.

The report that was published by the Robert Gordon University outlined that the number of people employed offshore could rise from just over 150,000 in 2023 to 225,000 by 2030, with new renewables jobs outnumbering oil and gas roles if a successful transition is achieved. What action is the Scottish Government taking to ensure that we do not lose that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, particularly in the face of the United Kingdom Government’s disappointing—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Nicoll, you have gone over your time.

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

This week’s developments on Rosebank confirm a number of concerns that the Scottish Government has had for a long time. Those relate principally to the size of the field, the fact that it will primarily produce oil and the fact that that oil is due principally to be exported and therefore cannot contribute to national energy security which, alongside climate concerns, I understand to be very important.

The Robert Gordon University’s report shows enormous energy potential and demonstrates that Scotland possesses the natural resources and the skills that are required to lead the global energy transition.

I mentioned the £4.5 million that we have invested in the energy transition skills hub and the 1,000 people whom it will train over the coming years. We have also invested £11 million in a skills passport; £5 million in an energy skills passport, which will support the transition of skills and jobs across offshore energy sectors; and £1 million in a skills accelerator, which will deliver pilot training courses in the area.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

After Rosebank was given the go-ahead yesterday, Sir Ian Wood, who has more than 60 years of experience and a track record of business success, said that it would accelerate a just transition to net zero and sustain thousands of jobs. On the other hand, serial corrector of the record over energy stats and career politician Humza Yousaf said that Rosebank would slow the pace of the transition. Whose analysis should the people of Scotland give more weight to?

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

I will be very clear. It is a stretch to suggest that fields of the size of Rosebank—primarily for oil production as they are and primarily for export, as that oil is—could possibly contribute to a just transition. [

Interruption

.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Members, we need to hear the cabinet secretary’s response.

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

We in this Government have never advocated the switching off of the taps in the North Sea overnight; that would be the wrong thing to do for our workers and for the investment that is needed to drive the transition to net zero. However, investing in new oilfields such as Rosebank is not the answer either. We must invest in a managed and fair transition, putting people, industry and workers in the north-east first.

Photo of Mercedes Villalba Mercedes Villalba Labour

The offshore training passport was due to be launched by the end of this month but, with just two days to go, we are hearing reports that progress has stalled. Does the minister believe that the passport will go live in the next two days? If not, why not?

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

The development of the OPITO offshore passport is an exceptionally complex piece of work—the complexities of which Mercedes Villalba has consistently failed to recognise. Progress continues to be made. A review of standards mapping for the passport project is currently under way, with outputs to be considered by the project review group. For the record, that group is comprised of representatives from industry, trade body and trade unions. It will do that when it reconvenes later next month. We will have further clarity on delivery timescales for the passport when that very important part of the process has concluded.