Funding secured for Aberdeen’s new energy transition skills hub

Funding secured for Aberdeen’s new energy transition skills hub

The former dairy site (above) and an artist’s impression of the completed skills hub

A not-for-profit company tasked with spearheading North East Scotland’s energy transition ambition has unveiled its plans to build a transformative Energy Transition Skills Hub that aims to equip the workforce of the future with the skills industry needs to deliver the low-carbon transition.

ETZ Ltd’s planned skills hub, based at North East Scotland College (NESCol), aims to train 1,000 people for jobs in the emerging green energy sector over its first five years.

The project is a collaborative effort involving ETZ Ltd, the Scottish Government, Shell UK, and NESCol. As the focal point of ETZ Ltd’s Skills Campus, the education campus will be one of five specialist campuses being developed across the Energy Transition Zone, which will become the largest dedicated energy transition complex in Scotland.

Supported by Scottish Government Just Transition Funding of £4.5m over two years, ETZ is investing £800,000 in the project. Shell UK is contributing £1.8m with the goal of creating 1,000 jobs in energy transition over five years, as part of a broader aim to help 15,000 people transition into such jobs over a decade. The new facility will provide flexible teaching spaces, a demonstration and teaching facility and a welding and fabrication academy all delivered by NESCol.

The hub will be built on the site of a disused dairy adjacent to NESCol, as an extension to the existing campus. The new building will singlehandedly quadruple the capacity of the existing training facilities at the college, transforming the student experience. Groundworks have already begun on the site with an anticipated opening in summer 2024.

The transformation of the building into a state-of-the-art teaching facility is designed to enable greater local community and school engagement with plans already underway for a dedicated outreach programme.

A mobile classroom staffed with an outreach worker and equipped with interactive technology will visit local schools aiming to inspire the next generation about the energy transition. The funding also includes plans to remove barriers to learning, providing opportunities for flexible training, which will allow local residents to access upskilling or reskilling courses that work for them around existing working or childcare commitments.

During a visit to NESCol on 15 September, cabinet secretary for net zero Mairi McAllan joined chairman of ETZ Ltd Sir Ian Wood, ETZ Ltd chief executive Maggie McGinlay, NESCol principal Neil Cowie and vice principal Robin McGregor and Shell’s senior vice president of UK Upstream Simon Roddy to meet young trainee electrical engineers.

Ms McAllan said: “Delivering on our climate obligations is an absolute priority for this Government, as is ensuring the journey to net zero is just and fair for those working in the energy sector and for the communities it supports.

“The Energy Transition Skills Hub will put the North East of Scotland at the forefront of the clean energy transition, helping prepare local young people for highly-skilled jobs and opportunities in the renewables sector.

“Supported by £4.5m from the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund, it will benefit Aberdeen and the wider region as we accelerate our journey to a greener, fairer, net zero economy.”

Sir Wood said: “This initiative by ETZ will support the transition to low carbon energy by providing the future workforce with the skills to drive the energy transition while ensuring the North East remains globally competitive in the low carbon energy sector.

“This flexible space will adapt to the skills requirements of the future, such as hydrogen fuel cells, wind turbine technician training and heat pump installation, while bringing in the next generation of technology to improve the experience for trainees.

“Equally importantly it will allow for development of the local workforce while engaging young people at an early stage so they can see the opportunities for them in the energy transition.”

Mr McGregor added: “The Energy Transition Skills Hub is a hugely significant project for the College and our partners.

“NESCol works very closely with industry to ensure the skills required in the jobs market are reflected in the courses we offer and the learning environment we create, with the new facility underlining the ambition the partners share as a driving force in the journey to net zero.

“This investment in the environmental and economic sustainability of the region comes at a time of great opportunity for the North East and the College has a crucial role to play in ensuring the knowledge, skills and expertise that provide the foundation for energy transition are at the heart of that bright future.”

Mr Roddy said: “The UK is on the verge of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape the country’s workforce with the aim of being an international leader in the energy transition.

“Today’s unveiling of the Energy Transition Skills Hub is a very important moment. And for Shell UK, it’s the first in our wider drive to help 15,000 people into jobs over the next decade to help ensure the energy transition is an opportunity for everyone.”

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