Four out of five UK oil and gas workers want to quit the fossil fuel industry, with a majority favouring a move to offshore wind and renewables, according to a new survey.
Campaigners Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK found 81% of workers they surveyed are considering leaving the oil and gas industry.
More than half of the 1,383 respondents – representing 4.5% of the UK oil and gas workforce – would be interested in retraining in offshore wind (53%) and renewables (51%), making the sectors the most popular choices for a career change, they found.
The campaigners argued that skills needed for offshore wind work closely aligns with oil and gas, but fossil fuel workers’ knowledge and expertise is as-yet untapped by the renewable industry.
Gabrielle Jeliazkov, lead campaigner for a just transition at Platform, said: “These workers are the backbone of our energy sector but have faced years of job insecurity amid volatile oil markets, lax regulation and now the global pandemic.
“If the UK government is serious about levelling up and transitioning to renewable energy, workers’ voices must be at the centre of that transition process. The government must ensure oil and gas workers are supported into secure and sustainable jobs.”
The top priority for workers surveyed was job security (58%), while 43% of workers have been made redundant or furloughed – temporarily laid off – since March, amid the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Job security was followed by pay (21%), similar work schedule (11%), health and safety regulations (5%), staying in a similar location (2%).
And given the option of retraining to work elsewhere in the energy sector, more than half would be interested in renewables (51%) and offshore wind (53%). Workers would also be interested in rig decommissioning (38%), carbon capture and storage (26%) and non-energy sectors (20%).
The campaigners called for the UK government to:
- Sit down with workers to shape policy together;
- Standardise certification for offshore work across oil and wind, allowing workers to move more easily between the industries;
- Give priority to offshore wind use of the seabed ahead of oil and gas extraction;
- And invest in expanding and improving docks and fabrication yards.