WESTMINSTER MPs have been called upon by trade unionists and environmental campaigners to support the creation of an Offshore Training Scheme to make it easier for oil and gas workers to transfer to the renewables sector.

The idea received backing from MSPs of several parties during a debate over an Offshore Training Passport in the Scottish Parliament in October 2021, and has received overwhelming support from offshore workers.

At present, the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill is making its way through the UK Parliament, with a final vote scheduled to take place on February 21.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has tabled three amendments which would require the UK Government to publish a strategy for the creation of an Offshore Training Scheme within one year.

A 2021 survey of 610 offshore workers conducted by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform and Greenpeace UK found that 97% of respondents said they were concerned about training costs.

On average, each worker paid £1800 every year to maintain the qualifications required to work in the offshore oil and gas sector.

Any worker seeking to move into renewables is currently expected to duplicate much of their existing training at an even greater cost.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s just transition campaigner Ryan Morrison said: “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 of pounds from their own pocket to duplicate qualifications they already have.

“It is time for MPs to listen to these workers by creating a regulated training passport to ensure a just transition for offshore workers. They have a golden opportunity to do exactly that this week by supporting these amendments.”

Among the offshore workers surveyed, 94% supported an Offshore Training Passport to standardise their training, which would significantly reduce the burden of costs faced by these often self-employed workers. The amendments put forward by Lucas seek to achieve these demands.

RMT regional officer Jake Molloy said: “The urgency of this issue cannot be overstated. The trade unions have been banging this particular drum since the oil and gas downturn of 2014 and the industry and their standards bodies have collectively failed the workforce.

“We need an intervention now; we need the political will and support of MPs across the country to address the injustice of having to pay for work, which is the situation faced by thousands of UK workers. All of the talk about a ‘just’ transition will continue to be nothing more than ‘talk’ if MPs fail to support this initiative.”

One worker, who has worked in the industry for 12 years and is currently a LOLER focal point for rigs, said: “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. 

“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.”