MacDonald Welcomes New Blueprint to Attract New Entrants Into Energy Sector.


Falkirk’s Forth Valley College already playing its part

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed Scottish Government plans announced today to train more young people and women to help ensure the future prosperity of Scotland’s multi-billion pound energy sector.

Forth Valley College is already leading the way with its innovative new Oil and Gas Academy Scotland (OGAS) facilities including the £1.21 million facilities opened last year consisting of a state-of-the-art chemical distillation plant, virtual control room, mini-rig lab, process training plant and mechanical workshop.

As part of the ongoing process to encourage new entrants into the industry the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) have today launched The Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s energy sector.

The report outlines priorities for the sector, developed collaboratively with both industry and public sector partners, and includes the following actions:

· Exploring more flexible working practices to encourage more female trainees

· Improved promotion of science, technology and engineering careers in school

· Increased work experience and placement opportunities

· Better scope for professional development and promotion

· Increased promotion of Modern Apprenticeships (MA) within the sector.

Publication of the Plan follows a cautious welcome for last week’s UK budget where significant changes to the North Sea tax regime were announced. Whilst acknowledging the long overdue ‘U-turn’ on the tax regime the Scottish Government called for more work focused on boosting investment and growth in the oil and gas sector.

The publication today coincides with the third meeting of the Energy Jobs Taskforce, chaired by Scottish Enterprise Chief, Lena Wilson. The taskforce which brings together senior industry figures, trade unions and public sector organisation is working to retain the talent and skills in the sector as well as provide support to people facing redundancy.

Welcoming the launch of the report, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said,

“Falkirk’s Forth Valley College has already played an important role in boosting the talent pool open to all parts of the energy industry, from oil and gas to renewables to distribution networks, and I’m sure it will have a significant role to play in the future.

“Forth Valley’s close relationship with local employers in the energy sector makes it ideally placed to be at the forefront of the skills pipeline for the energy sector in Scotland.

“For a long time the sector has had to cope with skills shortages, with companies reporting recruitment difficulties in a number of key disciplines.

“Taking the right action now will put the sector in a good position to face up to future challenges, and to capitalise as fully as possible on future opportunities.

“To fully unleash Scotland’s potential, we must continue to develop our talent and skills supply and ensure we have the capacity to deliver the qualified workforce the industry needs.”

“Scotland’s energy sector supports thousands of jobs around the country and is vital to our future economic growth and developing our infrastructure. It is therefore crucial that we ensure that our oil, gas and renewable companies are getting the right people into the right jobs.

“Recent months have shown that even the most significant industry requires support to protect jobs and investment. While we welcome the overdue changes to the North Sea tax regime announced by the UK government last week, for some it is too late and jobs have already been lost. Improved skills are paramount to the next steps on oil and gas exploration with a number of new projects under consideration.

“We know that the sector will continue to provide high quality career opportunities for the next generation of young Scots. With the creation of Energy Skills Scotland, increased Modern Apprentceships  and graduates in the sector and a variety of skills funds aimed at bringing more people into the sector we have come far.

“Today’s report has been backed by industry, education and enterprise and pulls together a range of actions to ensure we can plan for a prosperous future. We need greater awareness of career opportunities at a younger age, more energy MAs as part of our move towards 30,000 each year from 2020 and an end to the outdated idea that engineering and science is just for boys.

“Skills Development Scotland will continue to work closely with employers and relevant bodies to ensure that the actions identified are taken forward collaboratively with industry and that Scotland’s energy sector has the right skills for its future growth and prosperity.”

MacDonald Joins Launch of New Clydesdale Bank Polymer Fiver



Falkirk East SNP MSP Angus MacDonald has joined officials from the Clydesdale Bank in the Scottish Parliament to help launch the first fully polymer banknote to enter circulation in Great Britain – a new limited edition commemorative £5 note.


The note is being launched to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge. £10 million worth of notes, which combine images of the bridge with new security measures to create a unique design, will enter circulation.


It also features a portrait of prominent Scottish engineer Sir William Arrol, who was responsible for construction of the Forth Bridge and other famous Scottish landmarks including the giant Titan Crane in Clydebank.


It is smaller than the existing currency, which is made from cotton paper, but will still fit in cash machines, the bank has said.


Plastic banknotes are said to last 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes. They will survive a spin in a washing machine but will still melt under extreme heat such as an iron.


The note will also feature various new security features.


The limited edition notes will be available from branches of the Clydesdale. So far, more than 20 countries around the world have adopted polymer notes.


The Bank of England will begin issuing them next year.


.Speaking at the event in Parliament, Angus MacDonald MSP said:


“I was pleased to join Clydesdale bank officials for the launch. Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design. The quality of polymer notes is higher, they are more secure from counterfeiting, and they can be produced at lower cost to the environment."


“It’s also good to know that in Scotland we are a year ahead of the introduction of polymer banknotes by the Bank of England!”



Angus MacDonald at a Q&A in St Margaret's PS


Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has used time allocated in the Scottish Parliament to slam Falkirk Council’s threat to reduce the primary school week from 25 hours to 22.5 in 2016/17.

Despite Falkirk Council announcing a U-turn on the plans after Mr MacDonald had tabled the question in Parliament, the Falkirk East MSP decided to continue to highlight to the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Angela Constance at Education Portfolio Questions the folly of the proposal, and the negative impact such a move would have on the attainment levels of primary school children in Falkirk district.

Speaking after his question in the Chamber yesterday Angus MacDonald said:

“I was determined to bring this matter to the attention of the Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance and have it recorded on the official record in the Parliament Chamber, to ensure this ludicrous proposal by Labour-Tory controlled Falkirk Council was highlighted for all to see.

“I was delighted to hear the Cabinet Secretary state that the Scottish Government would not support any steps taken by Falkirk Council or other councils to cut the length of the school week with a view to reducing teacher numbers. Such a statement should help to concentrate the minds of Falkirk Councillors who would rather use the education of primary school children for political gain rather than concentrate on ensuring attainment levels are increased.”

“Parents of primary school children in Falkirk district will not forgive those Labour and Tory politicians in Falkirk’s Municipal Chambers who unnecessarily created anxiety and confusion with this crazy proposal.”

The transcript of the exchange with Angus MacDonald MSP and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning is detailed below:
Primary School Week Reduction (Falkirk)

15. Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Falkirk Council regarding its proposal to reduce the primary school week from 25 to 22.5 hours in 2016-17. (S4O-04138)

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Angela Constance):
Falkirk Council wrote to the Deputy First Minister on 19 February 2015 to confirm its commitment to maintain teacher numbers. Falkirk Council has confirmed to us its 2016-17 provisional budget proposal to reduce the primary school week from 25 hours to 22.5 hours from August 2016, which will deliver a reduction in teacher costs. However, we understand that discussions are on-going locally regarding the implications of that change. As the member will be aware, statutory responsibility for the provision of education rests with individual local authorities, which includes the requirement that all schools must be open for 190 days.

Angus MacDonald:
I am pleased to tell the cabinet secretary that, following my lodging of this question last week, Falkirk Council has quietly announced a U-turn on its ludicrous proposal to reduce primary school hours. I am sure that, like me, she welcomes the climb-down. Will she impress upon all local authorities that she meets that playing local politics with children’s attainment, and creating anxiety among parents who want the best for their children, is not a clever tactic, even for the Labour-Tory coalition in Falkirk?

Angela Constance:
Although statutory responsibility for the provision of education rests with local authorities, I do indeed welcome the change of heart. It is imperative that local authorities demonstrate to parents and to the wider community that any changes of this nature have an educational benefit and that their proposals are in the best interest of children. I have consistently made clear that the Government would not support any steps taken by Falkirk Council or other councils to cut the length of the school week with a view to reducing teacher numbers. The Government has made it clear that we are committed to raising attainment and to closing the attainment gap. That is an aspiration that I believe we can all unite behind. I do not believe that reducing teacher numbers is the best way to achieve it.

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2015

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