The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

£4.5m pledge to sup­port oil and gas skills

● Train to Re­tain will help fund those in early stages of ca­reers in en­ergy sec­tor

- BY KEITH FIND­LAY Business · Energy · Industries · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · Claydon · Scottish Government · Fergus Ewing · Scotland

The North Sea oil and gas in­dus­try is poised to ben­e­fit from a new £4.5 mil­lion scheme to sup­port the re­ten­tion of es­sen­tial skills dur­ing and af­ter the Covid-19 cri­sis.

Launched by the Engi­neer­ing Con­struc­tion In­dus­try Train­ing Board (ECITB), the Train to Re­tain ini­tia­tive is aimed at the on­go­ing devel­op­ment of ap­pren­tices and grad­u­ates, whose par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­dus­try pro­grammes has been sus­pended or oth­er­wise im­pacted by Covid-19.

ECITB is an arm’s-length UK Gov­ern­ment body that helps to drive pro­duc­tiv­ity in the engi­neer­ing con­struc­tion in­dus­try by sup­port­ing em­ploy­ers to train and up­skill their work­force to in­dus­try stan­dards.

It works with a wide range of oil and gas firms in the north-east, in­clud­ing around 20 reg­is­tered com­pa­nies in the sup­ply chain.

Many of th­ese busi­nesses are fac­ing con­sid­er­able un­cer­tainty about what the full im­pact of the coro­n­avirus­driven down­turn may be.

The launch of Train to Re­tain comes as the sec­tor strug­gles with the loss of about 4,500 jobs in the UK North Sea in the wake of the Covid-19 out­break.

In­dus­try body Oil and Gas UK warned re­cently an­other 30,000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs could be cut over the next 12 to 18 months, with the North Sea sup­ply chain likely to be af­fected most.

ECITB said that by fund­ing devel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties for those in the early stages of their ca­reer, it could help the sec­tor re­tain and de­velop the tal­ent re­quired to meet its medium and long-term skills needs.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Clay­don added: “ECITB has de­vel­oped a pack­age of cri­sis re­sponse mea­sures with an eye on the fu­ture, help­ing in­dus­try with both the short term prob­lems as it re­cov­ers from the im­me­di­ate eco­nomic im­pact and the longer-term chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly en­ergy tran­si­tion.

“We can­not for­get they are the fu­ture of our in­dus­try”

“Through Train to Re­tain, we will help em­ploy­ers to pro­vide train­ing and devel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties for ap­pren­tices and grad­u­ates, whose first steps on the ca­reer lad­der have been im­pacted by the pan­demic.

“As rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers, ap­pren­tices and grad­u­ates are among the most vul­ner­a­ble dur­ing times of eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity, how­ever, we can­not for­get they are the fu­ture of our in­dus­try.

“It is cru­cial their skills are re­tained and de­vel­oped to en­sure we can achieve the tran­si­tion to a net-zero car­bon econ­omy. ”

As well as the Train to Re­tain scheme to help em­ploy­ers keep hold of ap­pren­tices and grad­u­ates, ECITB plans to sup­port the in­dus­try in sev­eral other ways.

Th­ese in­clude a new schol­ar­ship to sup­port trainees em­bark­ing on engi­neer­ing con­struc­tion ca­reers and in­creased in­vest­ment in dig­i­tal train­ing and as­sess­ment tools.

Mean­while, aqua­cul­ture busi­nesses, af­fected by the col­lapse of in­ter­na­tional mar­kets due to Covid-19, can ap­ply for help with the cost of putting stock into cold stor­age through a £1.25m fund launched by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The scheme, which is sup­ported by the Euro­pean Mar­itime and Fish­eries Fund, will help pay for the trans­porta­tion, pro­cess­ing and cold stor­age of salmon, trout and shell­fish un­til the end of 2020.

Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fer­gus Ewing said: “This has been a chal­leng­ing time for the aqua­cul­ture sec­tor, with busi­nesses un­able to bring prod­ucts to mar­ket but con­tin­u­ing to face high op­er­a­tional costs.

“This new fund­ing, which will pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port for cold stor­ing salmon, trout and shell­fish, will mean busi­nesses will be able to cover some of the ad­di­tional costs they have faced try­ing to pre­serve stock dur­ing the global Covid-19 pan­demic.

“Farmed salmon is Scot­land’s most im­por­tant food prod­uct and valu­able food ex­port and we want to sup­port the sec­tor through th­ese chal­leng­ing times.”

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 ??  ?? Chris Clay­don, chief ex­ec­u­tive of ECITB
Chris Clay­don, chief ex­ec­u­tive of ECITB

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