Environment Protection: Technology

Department for Education written question – answered on 15th May 2023.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to provide specific (a) educational opportunities and (b) training programmes to help the oil and gas workforce make the transition to work in green technologies.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

The department has a range of existing skills and training offers that can support workers looking to transition between oil and gas, and other offshore energy sectors.

​Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks that give adults the opportunity to build sector-specific skills and access an interview. This can meet the needs of existing workers looking to upskill, as well as new entrants to a sector. Courses are available in energy skills, including offshore renewables and wind turbine blade repair.

​Apprenticeships are available in a range of occupational standards and can give employers and employees the skills they need to grow. The apprenticeships offer includes training in a huge range of disciplines, from logistics and project management to engineering and manufacturing. Flexibilities within apprenticeships include accelerated apprenticeships, which support those with existing industry experience to complete more quickly by recognising their prior leaning. This would suit people looking to move between sectors with transferable skills. Training is available for a range of engineering occupations crucial to the offshore energy sector including level 7 system integration engineer, level 3 plate welder, and level 4 asset manager.

In March 2021, The North Sea Transition Deal commited to supporting up to 40,000 direct and indirect supply chain jobs in decarbonising UK Continental Shelf jobs, and in Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) and Hydrogen. In May 2022, the government tasked offshore energy skills organisation, OPITO with developing an Integrated People and Skills Strategy. This work is complimented by the October 2021 Net Zero Strategy which commits the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Green Jobs Delivery Group is also covering the oil and gas industry in its detailed work on workforce and skills. The Group will be publishing a Net Zero and Nature Workforce and Skills Action Plan in the first half of 2024.

​According to the Integrated People and Skills Strategy, there are approximately 118,400 workers in oil and gas, and 148,500 in offshore energy overall. The Strategy forecasts offshore energy sector jobs increasing to 350,000 by 2050. It estimates 90% of the existing UK oil and gas workforce has skills transferable to other offshore energy sectors. Additionally, it states over half of the oil and gas workforce would consider moving into renewable energy jobs, provided they were supported with the right training. The Strategy commits to developing transition pathways to support offshore energy workers open to moving between sectors. This includes integration with the Armed Forces Covenant.

​A digital skills passport is in development that allows people working in offshore energy to be occupationally competent across oil and gas, CCUS, Hydrogen, and offshore wind. According to the Green Jobs Taskforce report, published in July 2021, approximately 50%, or 100,000, of the UK’s offshore energy jobs by 2030 are predicted to be filled by workers transferring from oil and gas to offshore renewable roles, as well as new entrants from outside the sector. ​

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