Skills, energy transition and water management top of the agenda for WA Government in Scotland

September started with a bang for the Office welcoming the Minister for Training; Water and Youth the Hon. Simone McGurk MLA to the United Kingdom.

Thomas Lamond by Thomas Lamond,

The focus of the Minister’s visit was to learn of measures being taken to address skill shortages in a rapidly changing energy sector and how to build new skills in emerging sectors such as defence. She also took the opportunity of visiting Scottish Water to hear of their initiatives to manage water management in a climate change environment.

The SPE Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen was a perfect start to this visit. Celebrating its 50th year, SPE Offshore Europe 2023, the 4-day conference drew almost 30,000 attendees and more than 800 exhibitors to Aberdeen. 

The event brought together key players from the oil, gas and renewable energy sectors  to collaborate on emerging challenges and opportunities. 

While also leading WA’s representation at the Conference, Minister McGurk’s visit focused on gaining deep insights into the opportunities and challenges transitioning to a low carbon future. 

This included Minister McGurk meeting Minister’s from both the United Kingdom, Scotland, local universities and convening a roundtable discussion with workforce development experts from across Northeast Scotland and members of the Western Australian delegation. 

A range of common themes emerged through these discussions such as the importance of short and targeted training products to assist workers impacted by the energy transition to effectively take on new opportunities in the renewables sector.  

It was also emphasised that traditional energy sources will still be needed for years to come, with a major challenge being how to ensure there is a strong workforce availability for both new and traditional energy. 

These engagements also highlighted the need for government and industry to clearly articulate the practical opportunities arising from the energy transition, including specific skills requirement, job opportunities and the timeframes in which these are expected to come available. 

The Minister also met with a range of Australian and British Defence industry representatives, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the workforce models required to develop the skills needed for the  critical sustainment services to nuclear powered submarines.  Facilitating visits like these are vital to highlight WA’s unique capabilities to a global audience but also gain a deeper understanding around how other jurisdictions are seeking to tackle shared challenges.