A £12million fund to help oil and gas workers apply their skills to other parts of energy industry and beyond has been announced.
The Transition Training Fund will help maintain the highly skilled energy workforce in the North Sea region by offering grants to individuals for retraining or further education.
The fund aims to help workers adapt their skills for use elsewhere, and will also help people with the costs of maintaining any licences they need to work in the sector.
Agencies such as Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will work with partners such as the Energy Skills Partnership and the Energy Technology Partnership to provide practical training and education that will help people meet the demand for other specialist jobs in the wider sector.
The announcement was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Aberdeen as she met senior industry figures and attended a meeting of the Energy Jobs Taskforce.
She said: “This fund will augment the work of the Energy Jobs Taskforce, which is already providing much-needed help to people affected by redundancy by working with bodies such as Skills Development Scotland to support redeployment and training.
“There is no doubt that the conditions facing the North Sea oil and gas sector are extremely challenging and the downturn in the oil prices is having a very real impact on the workforce, with significant and hugely concerning job losses.
“This is not just distressing for those individuals affected; it has a wider impact on the industry, with the risk that the highly skilled workforce is lost to the sector as they look for opportunities elsewhere.
“It is therefore 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.”
The new fund will augment the work of the Energy Jobs Taskforce, which is already providing support through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) process and other measures such as the Adopt an Apprentice initiative.