MEMBER NEWS: New National Energy Skills Accelerator to be established in Aberdeen to support the UK energy transition

July 2, 2021
MEMBER NEWS: New National Energy Skills Accelerator to be established in Aberdeen to support the UK energy transition

Courtesy of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

A new National Energy Skills Accelerator (NESA) is being established in Aberdeen to prepare the workforce for the energy transition and to provide access to new skills and capabilities required for delivering the net zero agenda.

The NESA will form part of the Energy Transition Zone in Aberdeen, which secured funding from both UK and Scottish Governments earlier this year. The Energy Transition Zone is an ambitious project that will reposition the North East of Scotland as a globally recognised integrated energy cluster focussed on the delivery of net zero that delivers sustainable jobs and growth for the region.

The NESA is a collaborative initiative between Robert Gordon University, the University of Aberdeen and the North East Scotland College and is supported by key regional partners, including Skills Development Scotland and Energy Transition Zone Ltd. It is anticipated that other partners may join NESA over time.

Acting as a collaborative umbrella organisation, the NESA will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for industry to access a wide range of energy courses, skills development programmes and R&D capabilities in the partner institutions.

Commenting on the creation of the new National Energy Skills Accelerator, Paul de Leeuw, chair of the NESA Development Board said:

“The energy transition will require the creation of a more flexible, more agile and more diverse energy workforce. With thousands of people to be new-skilled and re-skilled on an annual basis, NESA can play a critical role to ensure the industry has access to the key skills and capabilities required.

“Building on the 50+ year track record in each of the partner institutions, NESA will be able to support a wide range of organisation, both in the UK and globally. NESA will also play a key role to help the existing oil and gas workforce to prepare for emerging opportunities in adjacent energy sectors.

“NESA will act as a collaborative umbrella organisation, providing additionality and reducing duplication by enabling partners to work better with industry to promote, align and deliver skills development offerings and programmes responsive to industry needs.”

Professor Steve Olivier, Robert Gordon University principal, commented: “The development of NESA is a very important step in ensuring that the region is equipped with the skilled professionals we will need as we take strides towards the country’s net zero ambitions.

“This is a great example of how industry and academia can work in collaboration for the benefit of our region and we are thrilled to be playing a key role in its delivery, working with partners across the business and Higher and Further Education sectors.”

Professor George Boyne, University of Aberdeen principal, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with our key regional partners as part of NESA, as we aim to drive regional economic recovery and skills development as part of the net zero agenda.

“Through NESA we look forward to working with our industrial and higher and further education partners, as part of a collective effort to work for the benefit of our region and its economy.”

Neil Cowie, principal and chief executive, North East Scotland College (NESCol) said: “We are delighted to be a central and critical partner in this exciting and innovative collaboration. NESA is an excellent example of partnership working at its very best and will, undoubtedly, assist us all in the short, medium and longer term to contribute successfully to the future recovery, transition and prosperity of the region’s economy.

“Through the NESA the College will – in conjunction with its tertiary education and business partners – be able to develop and deliver high quality training to enable the region to be, and remain at, the forefront of energy transition and global climate change.”

Chris Brodie, director of regional skills planning and sector development at Skills Development Scotland (SDS) said: “With the transition towards net zero picking up pace, the establishment of NESA is an important step for the industries which drive the regional economy.

“NESA is aligned with the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan which sets out the skills measures required for Scotland to take advantage of the net zero opportunities in front of us.

“SDS is committed to working with partners to ensure people can build the skills they will need to succeed in this growing part of our economy throughout their career.”

Chief executive of Energy Transition Zone Ltd Maggie McGinlay said: “ETZ will support 2,500 direct jobs, with a further 10,000 energy transition-related jobs across the region. It is crucial we ensure we equip our current workforce and future generations with the skills necessary to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities energy transition will bring.

“By leveraging the collective strengths of the region’s leading academic institutions and private sector training providers to enhance the skills of the existing world-class talent pool the National Energy Skills Accelerator will precisely achieve that.”

Read the article on the AGCC website here.

Get in touch

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.

Scottish Enterprise