Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham, has pressed the Government to commit to plans that would see offshore oil and gas workers re-trained in the renewable energies sector as part of the Tees Valley Freeport deal.
Writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alex asked for the steps the Government were taking to ensure re-training and employment programmes were in place. The answer from the Government was: none, with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury refusing to “second guess” what would happen with industry on the Freeport site.
Last week it was announced that GE Renewables would be setting up a plant on the Teesside Freeport, creating jobs in wind turbine manufacturing.
“It is right that we champion the renewable energy sector and I’m pleased to see that our area is attracting this industry – potentially creating well paid, good quality jobs and training opportunities in the sector for local people.
“It’s also vitally important that workers in existing gas and oil industries are given the opportunity to re-train and find work within these new and emerging sectors. As part of the overall Industrial Strategy I’d hoped that the Government would be working from the outset to ensure that this happens but apparently this isn’t the case.
“While the Government claps itself on the back for its Freeport announcement, it needs to also do the hard work of making sure people are able to re-train and take up new employment. I’d urge the Chancellor to commit to doing this now, rather than brush it aside as something to think about for the future.”