RGU’s Professor Paul de Leeuw, Audrey Nicoll MSP, Donella Beaton Vice Principal for Economic Development at RGU and Jennifer Craw from Opportunity North East.
Image by: William Hardie

Holyrood reception hears about way forward for energy transition

By David Proctor - 24 November 2022

Robert Gordon University (RGU) has been helping to shine a light on the skills and investment needed to deliver energy transition with a reception in the Scottish Parliament.

Around 70 people attended the University’s parliamentary reception on Wednesday 16 November 2022, including MSPs and representatives from a wide range of organisations from across Scotland. The reception was an opportunity to showcase the University’s considerable thought-leadership, influence and partnership working on a critically important topic for the North-East of Scotland and for the country as a whole.

The reception was sponsored and chaired by Audrey Nicoll, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine. RGU’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Olivier, also addressed the gathering.

Professor Olivier said: “Educating individuals and equipping them with the curiosity and the skills to drive change is an important part of what we do but it isn’t all.  We have a huge focus on creating an entrepreneurial mindset.

“This isn’t just about RGU.  Scotland’s universities collectively are a formidable asset in the energy transition. 

“Collaboration and partnerships are essential to achieve both energy transition and economic growth.  We are proud and proactive in this sphere.”

22-11-22-Scottish-Parliament-2-2 Professor Steve Olivier speaking at Holyrood's Garden Lobby.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, spoke at the reception and highlighted the “legacy” of RGU’s Making the Switch report. He recognised the importance of securing a just transition through the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan so that no-one is left behind. He also highlighted the value of partnership working, including among government, academia and industry in delivering the skilled workforce that will be needed to support Scotland’s energy transition.

Professor Paul de Leeuw, Director of RGU’s Energy Transition Institute, Donella Beaton, Vice Principal for Economic Development, and Jennifer Craw, Chief Executive of Opportunity North East (ONE) took part in a panel discussion on realising the energy transition from both a regional and national perspective.

Paul de Leeuw, drawing on analysis from the University’s Making the Switch report, set out the scale of the opportunity and the challenge of delivering Scotland’s ambition for energy transition between now and 2030. With around 90% of the oil and gas workforce having medium-to-high skills transferability, and with 80% of today’s energy workforce expected to still be working in 2030, there is a pressing need for upskilling and reskilling. Joined-up strategy and investment will be crucial in order to develop the necessary infrastructure and supply chain at the pace required while also matching the supply of and demand for skills to deliver the energy transition.

During the parliamentary reception’s panel discussion, Donella Beaton pointed out that skills’ development is vital if the region is to take full advantage of a green industry boost. She also said that those already working in the energy sector are well positioned to take advantage of new workforce opportunities, and that RGU, working in partnership with others, is providing upskilling and reskilling training opportunities to support the transition.

This includes RGU’s soon-to-be-launched new and freely available online programme that will provide those already working in the energy industry with information on how their existing knowledge and skills will prepare them for the energy workforce of the future. This is in addition to the University’s degree programmes and short course provision which are being developed to provide people at all ages and career stages with the education and skills they will require for low carbon energy roles.

Reference was also made to the University’s contribution to the region’s National Energy Skills Accelerator which has recently been awarded funding from the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund to develop and pilot new qualifications and skills pathways to meet the evolving workforce needs of Scotland’s energy sector.

Jennifer Craw spoke about processes of change, emphasising the importance of focussed decision making and of harnessing strategic and sustainable investment from across the public and private sectors, nationally and regionally, that will deliver energy transition more quickly. She also highlighted the importance of not only making sure energy supply chains are ready for the transition but also to make sure the North East is seen as an attractive place to live, work and learn.

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