MEMBER NEWS: Energy Institute in skills warning that net zero could leave workers ‘stranded’

July 12, 2021
MEMBER NEWS: Energy Institute in skills warning that net zero could leave workers ‘stranded’

Courtesy of Energy Voice.

The Energy Institute has said the majority of UK workers plan to train for net zero in the coming year, but concerns persist on cost, timing, and availability of courses.

Issuing its 2021 Energy Barometer, the group’s flagship annual report, the Energy Institute warned workers and their communities could be left “stranded” unless government and industry form a national skills strategy.

More than half of the 400 professionals surveyed, spanning from oil and gas to renewables, said they had or are considering a move to new fields in the coming decade such as wind power, hydrogen or carbon capture and storage.

A majority of 57% plan to take on new training in the next year for the low carbon shift, but 49% said issues like cost could stand in the way of their development.

The Energy Institute said a majority see investment in skills in the existing workforce as “necessary” to overcome the “strong sense that communities are disconnected from net zero”.

The findings come after unions and climate campaigners last month called for the creation of training “passports” to help oil and gas workers transition to renewables more easily.

Steve Holliday, president of the professional skills body, said a “mass skilled workforce” is required in order for the UK to hit its net zero target by 2050, and 2045 in Scotland.

He said: “A laser focus on policies and initiatives to drive the development of low-carbon technologies is vital, but it must not eclipse the equally important need to support and develop the net zero workforce.

“We often hear about the long lead times involved in building a new power plant. But the lead times required to bring on a heat pump installer or wind turbine engineer – from inspiring interest in STEM in schools through the necessary apprenticeships and university degrees and into the workforce – are as long if not longer.”

The Energy Institute discussed the need for the “push” of a skills strategy, from schools and up, alongside the “pull” of stable energy policy.

UK Energy and Climate Change minister, Anne-Marie Tevelyan MP, said: “Today’s invaluable findings from the Energy Barometer support the government’s priority to invest in the UK’s most important asset – our workforce – ensuring that people from every region of the UK have the right skills for the green industrial revolution and thrive in the jobs this will create.”

The barometer also tested the opinion on conventional fuels, with just a minority of UK energy professionals supporting new licensing of fossil fuel production.

New coal mining attracted 12% support, followed by shale gas (25%), offshore oil and gas (36%) and gas fired power generation (43%).

An International Energy Agency report produced in May concluded no new fossil fuel permissions should be given if global net zero targets are to be reached.

Oil and Gas UK argued that, in the case of Britain, it would increase reliance on imports and damage companies whose expertise is needed for the development of low-carbon technology.

Read the article on the Energy Voice website here.

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AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

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