Workers across the oil, gas, wind and decommissioning industries strongly support the idea of an ‘offshore passport’ that would make it easy to transfer their skills and experience between sectors, a survey shows.
Respondents to a poll reported they are currently forced to pay out thousands of pounds of their own money for training courses before being hired, with no guarantee of work, and are routinely having to repeat training they have already done.
These barriers require workers to fork out for training to move to jobs in wind, despite already holding relevant qualifications.
Campaigners warn that the government must act to remove these hurdles to ensure the UK delivers on its targets to introduce 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.
’Forced to buy their jobs’
Jack*, 39, a father of two from Fife, has worked in the industry for 12 years. In the past two years he’s spent £3,000 on training costs with no help from employers.
He said: ‘Shelling out all this money does cause stress, and it does have an impact on your family and your living costs. “There’s lots of people worrying about how they’re going to pay the mortgage. I know people who’ve packed it in altogether because working offshore is just too expensive.
‘I have thought about working in renewables, but that’d be thousands of pounds you’d have to pay to work in both industries. It’d just be too much, it costs an absolute fortune just to stay in one sector.’
Alasdair*, aged 60, from the Highlands has 30 years’ experience working offshore as a rigger and scaffolder.
‘It’s like people are being forced to buy their jobs…It’s a money making racket as far as I’m concerned’, he said. ‘Having a system where you don’t have to duplicate training would make much more sense. The training is basically exactly the same for both industries.’
‘The skills and experience of offshore workers are vital to enable a rapid shift to renewable energy, but workers cannot be expected to fork out thousands from their own pocket to duplicate qualifications they already have.
‘Promises of green jobs mean little when this unregulated training regime holds back the opportunity to move between sectors. It is time for politicians to listen to these workers by creating a regulated offshore training passport to ensure a just transition for offshore workers.’
Just Transition campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland
Barrier to a just transition
A survey of more than 600 offshore workers, by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform and Greenpeace, supported by RMT and Unite Scotland, found that 94% of workers were in favour of introducing standardised training for working offshore.
On average, workers surveyed had spent £1,824 per year on training.
Workers are often required to repeat existing training when starting a contract with a new employer, when starting a new contract with the same employer and when moving to jobs in other offshore sectors.
Almost two-thirds (62%) said that when taking a contract with a different employer they were asked to duplicate their existing qualifications that were still in date.
‘This unregulated outsourcing of training is a major barrier to a just transition to renewable energy. We know the energy transition will impact thousands of workers and the government needs to make a plan to support them.
‘Successive governments have failed to keep the oil sector in check and allowed for the increasing casualisation of the workforce, with costs now borne by individuals rather than employers. Workers are telling us what they need, the government must listen.’
Just Transition campaigner for Platform
An exploitative system
Three-quarters of respondents to the survey were contractors, rather than employees, which is indicative of the trend towards offshore work becoming more ‘casualised’.
Survey findings suggested this is resulting in workers increasingly having to pay for work training out of their own pocket.
Almost two-thirds of respondents said employers had paid none of their training costs in the past two years, a rise of 20% compared with pre-2015.