There are no detailed plans as yet for government intervention to re-train coal power plant workers to adapt to a future where coal has been phased out in the UK.
Power Engineering International asked the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the European Commission if there had been some arrangements to prepare coal power engineers for the post-coal scenario.
The British government is accelerating the closure of coal plants as a key driver in decarbonising its economy and meeting EU commitments to tackling climate change.
If the EU are serious about decarbonising the economy, the government needs to come up with a proactive set of interventions that will retrain and reskill workers from high-carbon sectors, so that they can move into emerging low-carbon sectors.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills told Power Engineering International, “I’m afraid I don’t have anything specific for power plant engineers and staff. It might be worth speaking to industry to see what they’re doing.”
DECC is busy in facilitating workers in the oil and gas extraction sector to re-train where required. However there appears to have been no consideration as of yet to those in the generation area.
Included in the facilities for those involved in extraction are an Oil and Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen (Research and Development work), part of the £250m Aberdeen deal. Also a £5.6m donation was made to the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas to assist training for safe delivery of operations for the onshore oil and gas industry.
Meanwhile Sara Soumillion, press officer at the European Commission DG for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility (ESF) said while nothing had been targeted specifically towards power generation, her office was available to assist member states in re-training in any industrial sector, should it be requested.
“Although the ESF doesn’t have a sector-based approach, the fund has a key role to play to facilitate the adaptation of workers in particular to industrial changes. It is important to underline that the ESF is a shared management instrument and it is the Member States who select the type of operational programmes and are responsible for their implementation.”
Power Engineering International put it to the Commission’s press officer that if the EU is serious about decarbonising the economy, it needs to come up with a proactive set of interventions that will retrain and reskill workers from high-carbon sectors such as coal power engineers, so that they can move into emerging low-carbon sectors.”
Soumillion said, “The ESF is the main instrument to invest in people, and re-skilling and up-skilling is at the heart of what we do. This is also why the Commission will soon present a New Skills Agenda for Europe, which will also pay attention to ‘green skills’ and the possibilities the green industry has to offer in terms of employment.”
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