New £12m oil industry jobs fund being set up

image copyrightPA
image captionThe North Sea industry has struggled amid low oil prices

A new £12m fund to help people who face losing their jobs in oil and gas to gain new skills and find new work is being set up by the Scottish government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Transition Training Fund should help keep expertise in the energy sector, or in related roles in manufacturing.

She said job losses were "distressing".

The fund will offer grants for individuals to acquire specialised skills or further training.

Ms Sturgeon was meeting industry leaders and attending an energy jobs task force in Aberdeen.

She said: "It is absolutely crucial that we take every possible action to retain the expertise that the industry has built up over decades so that it remains flexible enough to capitalise on exploration investment and future oil price rises."

Also announced was £12.5m of Scottish Enterprise funding aimed at helping oil and gas firms sustain growth and compete internationally by developing new innovative technologies.

The announcements - and plans for a £20m Aberdeen International Airport revamp - came just days after a £504m package was announced earlier by the UK and Scottish governments to improve infrastructure in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and to attract new jobs.

'Incredibly skilled'

North East Scotland Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: "The Scottish government's offer of extra money to train those made redundant by the oil and gas industry is a step in the right direction but a year later than it should have been.

"This is the kind of initiative which should have been put in place when the North Sea saw the first signs of a crisis, not after an estimated 65,000 people have already lost their jobs."

North East Scotland Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes said: "This is welcome support for the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs because of the downturn in the oil and gas industry.

"They are incredibly skilled staff whose experience cannot be wasted and who need to know the opportunities and help they need to retrain is available.

"What we now need to know is how exactly this fund will be distributed, who can apply and clear details as they come in of how many people are actually benefiting."

The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has decreased from more than $100 in January 2014 to less than $30 in January of this year.

Tens of thousands of jobs are thought to have been lost.

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