‘Dismal’: Unions call for SNP strategy after number of Scottish green jobs declines

TRADE union bosses have called for the Scottish Government to draw up a new strategy for green jobs after statistics shows the number of Scots employed in low carbon industries has fallen.

The Scottish Government has pledged to produce 130,000 green jobs by 2020 and has been criticised by opponents after only a fraction of roles expected have materialised.

New statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of jobs in Scotland’s “low carbon and renewable energy economy” fell from 21,700 in 2019 t0 20,500 in 2020 – a drop from 23,200 in 2014.

In 2015, Scotland had 22,900 green jobs, before the number increased to 24,000 in 2016 – but fell to 22,100 in 2017 and 23,100 in 2018.

Turnover in Scotland’s low carbon and renewable energy sector has also declined from £6.4 billion in 2018 to £5.7 billion in 2019 and £5.5 billion in 2020.

The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has called for an urgent strategy to be brought forward by SNP minister in order to boost the number of green jobs.

STUC general secretary, Roz Foyer, said: “Workers were promised the Saudi Arabia of renewables, but all they got was a desert.

“We are getting sick and tired of reading promises of a bright new green jobs future when the truth is we have fewer than we did eight years ago, and the number continues to fall.

“We may have a massive share of Europe’s installed onshore wind capacity, but we don’t manufacture turbines. And we may have some of Europe’s largest offshore wind farms, but we barely fabricate any jackets. We need a new strategy, and we need it urgently”

The Scottish Government have faced criticism for a failure to capitalise on ramping up wind turbines with jobs – amid concerns that jobs have been offshored and the fiasco surrounding the BiFab yard.

In the latest round of offshore wind farm contracts, the Scottish Government has put in place measures to ensure companies commit to investing in the Scottish supply chain as part of the developments.

Scottish Labour’s net zero, energy and transport spokesperson, Colin Smyth, said: “These dismal figures confirm that the SNP are still squandering Scotland’s green jobs potential.

“It simply beggars belief that the number green jobs are falling as we begin the road to net zero.

“The SNP’s long-abandoned pledge to create 130,000 green jobs by 2020 remains in tatters as things get even worse.”

He added: “The future of our planet and the livelihoods of thousands of workers rely on the SNP-Green government getting serious about investing in green jobs – but instead they are selling off our seabeds and sending key contracts abroad.

“We urgently need a real green jobs strategy to reverse these woeful trends and deliver the jobs-first transition Scotland needs.”

Earlier this month, Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson was pressed at a Holyrood committee appearance over money allocated in next year’s Scottish Budget for a green jobs fund.

Mr Matheson said that “some £50 million has been baselined for our enterprise agencies and some £50 million is held at government level”.

He added: “We are undertaking work with businesses to set the criteria to ensure that the fund is aligned with needs in the sector. That will allow businesses to start applying for funding in the new financial year.”

The Cabinet Sectary claimed that “there is no clear definition of what a green job is”.

He added: “There are competing views on what should be defined as a green job.

“The Scottish Government is undertaking some work, through engagement with a variety of stakeholders, to try to arrive at a shared, agreed position on what could be classified as a green job.

“What we classify as a green job might not necessarily reflect what other countries would consider to be a green job, so we need to make sure that we have an inclusive definition.

“That piece of work is being done just now so that we have that shared and agreed understanding, which will then allow us to understand the progress that we are making in delivering greater numbers of green jobs.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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