Young people should focus on renewables for future – new NE Scotland poll

Emma Harrick (Scottish Renewables)

YOUNG people in North East Scotland should focus their careers on renewable energy, more than half of adults in the area believe.

Polling released today (March 27) asked ‘If you were giving advice to a young person, which of the following sectors, if any, would you propose they focus their career on?’. Almost twice as many said renewables than any other choice.

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The survey found 52% made the industry their top career pick for young people, beating eight other choices including healthcare (27%), oil and gas (24%) and finance (23%).

The development of offshore wind projects off Scotland’s east coast will mean billions of pounds of investment and tens of thousands of jobs. Other renewable energy technologies also provide opportunities, alongside the transition to heat pumps and building the pylons and substations needed to transport power to consumers.

Emma Harrick, Head of Energy Transition and Supply Chain at Scottish Renewables, the industry body which commissioned the polling, said:

“This polling has confirmed that renewable energy is now seen as the backbone of Scotland’s future economy.

“The transition to an energy system based on clean, secure and affordable renewable energy – particularly offshore wind power – is already reshaping the North East, with new businesses getting involved and existing ones moving their operations to focus on renewables. However some parts of our industry are already struggling to find enough people to do the skilled work which is needed, and we expect these challenges to increase.

“This opportunity is not just about offshore wind. We also need people to work on the transition to low-carbon heat, in roles like heat pump installation and maintenance, and to build the pylons and substations which are so vital to creating a clean energy system fit for the 21st century.”

Renewable energy technologies like wind, tidal, hydro, solar and their supply chains support more than 42,000 jobs and generate more than £10.1 billion of output for Scotland.

Last year (Sept 2023) a report by Robert Gordon University found that the UK offshore energy workforce can increase by up to 50% from around 150,000 in 2023 to 225,000 by the end of the decade, with new renewable jobs outnumbering oil and gas roles if a successful transition is achieved.

Research from Xodus in 2023 forecasts growth of 22% in energy sector roles by 2030 – that’s more than 73,000 jobs – and that work related to expanding the electricity grid could mean a further 50,000 new jobs by 2030.

The new Scottish Renewables polling also found that almost half of people in North East Scotland (46%) think the Scottish Government should accelerate renewable energy development to tackle climate change.

Emma Harrick continued:

“Every gigawatt of renewable energy which we build creates 1,500 jobs – quite simply, deployment equals employment. And these are projects we already need to secure our energy supplies and tackle climate change.

“In this polling we specifically focused on North East Scotland as the place where the energy transition is most evident, and one of the many places in which renewables will continue to grow. What people there have told us is clear: they think the Scottish Government should act to accelerate renewables, because that’s where they think the future of the region’s young people lies.

“The North East of Scotland has a foundation of energy expertise and know-how and exciting opportunities lie ahead for the region that will continue to make the most of the energy industry for years to come.”

  • Full results of the survey questions referenced in this media release are available here. The survey of 1,004 people was conducted via online interview by Survation on behalf of Scottish Renewables. Fieldwork was conducted between the January 3-30, 2024. The data were weighted to the profile of adults 16+ in the North East Scotland Scottish Parliament region. Data were weighted by age, sex and council area. Margin of error is 3.4%.

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