The use of hydrogen as an energy carrier is one of the emerging technologies that is expected to support the reduction in emissions in sectors traditionally reliant on fossil fuels. In 2022, through the Hydrogen Action Plan, Scotland announced its ambition to become a leading producer and exporter of hydrogen, particularly green hydrogen, which is produced using electricity from renewable sources.
The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current and forecasted jobs and skills demands in the hydrogen economy as assuming it meets the ambitions defined by the Hydrogen Action Plan.
Key objectives of the research were to define the scope of the sector and the scale of the opportunity for Scotland as a result of growth in the hydrogen economy; assess current and future skills demand within the sector; and identify key skills requirements and issues.
The study focuses on skills requirements for the upstream part of the supply chain, which includes hydrogen production facility installation, commissioning and operations, as well as storage, transportation and export. Sectors that would use the hydrogen were excluded from this study. Methods included literature and online reviews, and stakeholder interviews across the industry, skills providers and other relevant organisations.
Summary of findings
- Hydrogen has potential to be a valuable part of the Scottish economy. The upstream hydrogen economy will have an estimated cumulative turnover of £7.6bn by 2030 and £22.9bn between 2031 and 2035. This translates to cumulative gross value added figures of £3.9bn over the period to 2030 and £11.9bn from 2030 to 2035.
- A large number of new jobs will be created in the hydrogen economy as it grows. Direct annual employment will be, on average, 6614 full-time equivalent over the 2025-2030 period and an average of 18,535 in 2030-2035.
- The skills to enable the hydrogen economy are not fundamentally different from the skills required in other process industries, according to stakeholders predictions. The demand for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, digital and data science skills will be high across the energy sector as a whole, as well as other related sectors. The majority of the skills required will be at college and graduate levels. This highlights that a talent shortage is a key concern for the hydrogen economy.
- A skilled and experienced technical workforce will be required in different areas of Scotland, including rural and remote areas such as the islands. Larger hydrogen hubs could be located closer to the key export sites and end users, such as cities (Aberdeen) or energy-intensive process sites (Grangemouth). Stakeholders agree that steps should be taken to ensure the early pilot projects in the rural and remote regions are adequately supplied with technical talent because these sites provide crucial learning experiences for the rest of the future hydrogen economy. The geographical location of skilled workers and skills provision will be a lesser concern when hydrogen production scales up because, in stakeholder experience from the oil and gas sector, the skilled workforce is mobile.
For further information on the findings and a list of recommendations, please read the report attached.