Tom Steward, IGov Team, 13th November, 2014
Yesterday Matthew Hancock gave the go-ahead to a new brand of colleges focussing on onshore oil and gas extraction. These ‘centres of excellence’ will train young people at a range of levels (from A-level up to post-graduate) to ready them for a career in the oil and gas industry.
This comes on the same day that the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) launched a report on the role of gas, which explores how gas can act as a bridge to a low-carbon world with warming of less than 2°C. The report explains that if CCS is developed, then the gas only need start declining after 2035, however if CCS is not forthcoming, then the bridge is considerably shorter – reaching only to 2025.
Essentially this means that even if we assume CCS will be developed, and supposing the first of these colleges were ready to open its doors to students tomorrow, those kids would find themselves in a world with decreasing needs for their skills by the time they reach their mid-30s – and that’s only the first year’s intake.
The alternative option is that these new colleges form another piece in the jigsaw of institutional and skills lock-in, that, even with the best will in the world, will stand in the way of the transition to a low-carbon economy, and so working against the aim of keeping temperature rise below 2°C.
A strong skills base is an essential part of a sustainable economy (in every sense of the word), but it is essential that we equip the workforce of tomorrow with the right (and flexible) skills for the future that they will be living in. This new move by Government does not paint a picture of a Government with the long term interests of either society, or our young people, at heart.