A Fife MSP is pushing for more training and skills opportunities for Fifers to be able to access work in the oil and gas sector of the Scottish Economy. Alex Rowley raised the issue of a national training strategy for oil and gas in the Scottish Parliament with Cabinet Secretary John Swinney stating that if we are to truly get the benefits of oil and gas for our communities then people need access to the skills to get the jobs in that sector.
Mr Swinney agreed and said that in recent months an energy academy skills approach has been supported by the government working with the industry and with further and higher education institutions. He also said that there was a lot of activity with companies moving work from the north-east of Scotland into other areas.
Mr Rowley has now written to Fife Council and Fife College asking what steps are being taken to ensure that the energy skills academy approach is being taken in Fife and what opportunities are available for Fifers to access the training and skills that will lead to jobs in the oil and gas sectors.
Alex Rowley said; “In my own constituency and across Fife we are seeing companies recruiting across Europe stating that they cannot find the skilled labour in this county and indeed country and yet we have high levels of unemployment and youth unemployment. This is not acceptable, we need better link up between schools, colleges and employers and we need to make training and skills opportunities available to the wider population. The economy of the north-east is booming and I want us in Fife to take advantage of this. I note the cabinet Secretary is saying that in recent months there has been a proliferation of oil and gas activity out of the north-east so I am asking Fife Council what is happening and what needs to happen to make sure we attract these companies into Fife. But as we have seen it is not just about attracting the jobs, we must have the skills and training opportunities so local people can get these jobs”.
Alex Rowley (Cowdenbeath) (Lab): Does the cabinet secretary agree that, if we are truly to get the benefits of oil and gas for our communities throughout Scotland, we need to consider a national training strategy so that people can get the skills to get the jobs in that sector?
John Swinney: I agree entirely with Mr Rowley. I have seen the emergence of two things around the country in recent months. First, there is the energy skills academy approach. The Government has supported that through its provisions and by working in partnership with the industry and with our further and higher education institutions, which are working on ensuring that we have in Scotland the right skills mix that will allow us to make the most of the oil and gas opportunities.
Secondly, there is a proliferation of oil and gas related economic activity out of the north-east of Scotland. That is mainly due to the significant concentration of activity that is already there moving into other parts of Scotland, which are now reaping the dividends of being active participants in the oil and gas sector. I was talking to companies just the other week, in my colleague Aileen Campbell’s Clydesdale constituency, that are actively involved in supporting the oil and gas sector from the other side of the country. That is an indication of how the benefit of oil and gas is spreading across the whole of Scotland. We are determined to ensure that that remains the case.