Plans to create a world-leading energy transition zone in Aberdeen could hand career opportunities to thousands of young people.
City leaders believe the zone in the south of the city would help keep the best young talent in the north-east.
The project is included in the city’s new local development plan, which was given the green light by councillors last month.
It would see the south of the city transformed into a hub for the generation of renewable and green energies.
City leaders hope the zone would create jobs for young people to remain in the north-east instead of migrating to other parts of the UK or abroad.
And they believe that could provide a huge boost to the region as it continues to search for ways of diversifying from oil and gas.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing said: “It’s around inclusive economic growth. If you are diversifying the economy you reap the biggest benefits for the whole of the city.
“It’s about securing the long-term future of our young people and creating an anchor to keep them in Aberdeen.
“We had a number of options about securing apprenticeships, training and jobs.
“All these are benefits which can be provided to communities that would be impacted, working to shape apprenticeship programmes and ensuring no matter where you are in the city you get the same opportunities.”
The council has already laid the groundworks for long-term apprenticeship programmes for young people.
Chief officer for city growth Richard Sweetnam said: “Schools in the city can start planning and ensuring there are the people and ambition to back the economic opportunity realised from this.”
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One of the first areas to benefit will be Torry, with the aim of ensuring the zone has a lasting positive impact on the community it lies in. Plans are already in place for a partnership with Lochside Academy.
Head teacher Neil Hendry said: “This presents a fantastic opportunity for Lochside Academy, our pupils and locality.
“Modern apprenticeships are expanding potential career pathways for older school children and to have the chance to work with the energy transition zone opens horizons for everyone.”
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden added: “One of our priorities is to ensure people in the community benefit from any new energy transition jobs that come from this investment.
“We need to make sure the people of Torry benefit from any money that comes in. Anything we do has got to be done with them.
“That’s why we asked for Lochside to be part of any working group going forward. We have to make sure any apprenticeship scheme benefits the area.”
The zone has also been backed by further education institutions in the region.
Neil Cowie, principal of North East Scotland College (NESCOL), said: “We are supportive of the plans for the energy transition zone and the training and employment opportunities it will bring.
“Energy transition is an integral part of our strategy and represents another exciting chapter for the region which will help broaden economic horizons.
“The challenges this part of the country has faced have been unique – but so too are the opportunities opening up as the result of a proactive approach and the very powerful partnership work we’re proud to be part of.”
Aberdeen University principal, Professor George Boyne, said: “As a university we welcome these exciting plans for a new Energy Transition Zone and look forward to working with partners to ensure the region continues to be a leading player in the global energy industry for decades to come.
“Our aim is to work with industry at all levels to support the shift to sustainable energy, and plans for an energy transition zone that will foster innovation and provide opportunities for collaboration is good news for industry in the north-east of Scotland and for the university.”