New Energy Transition Skills Hub set to open in 2024

September 15, 2023

Students at North East Scotland College, one of Scotland’s biggest providers of vocational education and training, will soon benefit from a pioneering skills hub to underpin the region’s ambitions as a European powerhouse for low carbon energy.

The new development to be known as the Energy Transition Skills Hub at NESCol is designed to harness the employment opportunities provided by the transition as the country accelerates development of green energy, as an alternative to the oil and gas sector which has provided jobs and economic security for generations.

ETZ Ltd, a not-for-profit company tasked with spearheading North East Scotland’s energy transition ambition, has unveiled new 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.

As the focal point of ETZ’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.

Delivered in collaboration with NESCol and lead corporate sponsor Shell UK Limited, the Energy Transition Skills Hub will benefit from world class funding and expertise as it puts young people and the local community at the heart of development plans.

Supported by Scottish Government Just Transition Funding of £4.5m over two years, ETZ is investing £800,000 in the project. Shell UK’s £1.8m investment aims to help 1,000 people into energy transition jobs across five years as part of the company’s wider drive to help 15,000 people into jobs with a focus on the energy transition across the 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.

As the focal point of ETZ’s Skills Campus, the education hub will be one of five specialist campuses being developed across the Energy Transition Zone.

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 today, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Mairi McAllan joined Chairman of ETZ Sir Ian Wood, ETZ 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.

Mairi McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition, 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 Ian Wood, Chairman of ETZ, 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.”

Robin McGregor, NESCol Vice Principal Curriculum and Quality, said: “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.”

Simon Roddy, Senior Vice President of Shell UK Upstream, 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’sthe 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.”