Research Output
From “dirty” oil and gas to green energy: Workers’ views on skills transition
  As the environmental agenda progresses worldwide, it is clear that the move to sustainable forms of energy is both crucial and inevitable. For UK workers currently employed in the traditional energy sector including oil and gas, this transition presents challenges particularly around the transferability of their skills, recognition of their skills, long-term career prospects and access to upskilling. What’s clear is that the transition to renewable energies will require amongst other investments, a clear route to developing the required skills within the workforce (de Leeuw & Kim, 2021).
Britain has a wealth of skilled workers in the areas of coal, oil and gas. Previous reports have found that many of the oil and gas workers have medium to high skills transferability into other energy sectors (de Leeuw & Kim, 2021) and are therefore in a good position to transition into the renewable energies sector (Green Jobs Taskforce, 2021). However, what’s largely missing from the current debate is the worker’s perspective on transitioning into cleaner energy jobs and the opportunities and barriers that they perceive. Therefore, the factors that impact on workers deciding to engage in upskilling, which would allow for such a transfer to employment in renewable energy, are not yet clearly understood.
To address this gap, the purpose of our research is twofold. First, this research explores workers’ perspectives of skills and training required for the transition from traditional carbonbased industries (e.g. coal, oil and gas) to renewable energy. Second, the research also aims to identify key barriers and enablers to upskilling for the UK’s energy transition. In order to capture worker’s views we conducted a survey amongst employees of a major UK energy company.
Initial findings show, that in line with previous research, respondents perceived their skills as generally transferrable across the energy sector, though the degree to which these are seen as transferrable differs for different types of skills and competences. Perceived transferability of skills seems further related to perceived job security as well as workers’ continuous skill building. With regard to potential enablers and barriers to upskilling, the data suggests that these span across workers individual circumstances, e.g. motivation to engage in learning, as well as organisational factors such as for example the training opportunities offered to workers in their workplace.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    03 April 2024

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    RSE Royal Society of Edinburgh


Heidl, B., O'Neil, J., & Bratton, A. (2024, April). From “dirty” oil and gas to green energy: Workers’ views on skills transition. Presented at 42nd International Labour Process Conference 2024 (ILPC 2024), Göttingen


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