UK CCUS industry needs to address skills issues, report warns

Efforts toward net zero with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) will require a significant effort to address the skills challenges facing the industry, a new report warns.


Published by Cogent Skills, the report – A Greenprint on Skills for the Low-Carbon industries – says while government figures suggest CCUS could support up to 50,000 jobs by 2050, the availability of skills remains a ‘bottleneck’ as the sector competes with other industries for certain roles.

While the number of full-time employees in the sector more than doubled between 2014 and 2021 (from 300 to 700), there is a ‘significant gap in the research’ around CCUS’s current UK workforce with few specialised routes into the industry, the report adds.

In a statement, Cogent Skills’ CEO, Justine Fosh, said: “CCUS is seen as a necessary solution to reduce emissions in heavy carbon-emitting sectors which use high temperature industrial processes and long-distance transport. But while there is no clear plan to develop a workforce to support future CCUS facilities, the sector is under pressure to meet the ambition of capturing 20-30Mt of CO2 per year by 2030.”


Quoted in the report, Canada’s Transition Accelerator’s Workforce Assessment Tool shows job types and competencies likely to reflect those needed in the UK carbon capture industry. These include: carbon capture (engineers with backgrounds in automation, mechanical engineering and petroleum technology plus operations and maintenance roles); CO2 pipeline transmission (relatively specialised jobs needing engineering and chemistry skills); underground storage (field operators that need training in drilling, mechanics and servicing rigs plus engineering roles including drilling and completion and geoscience professionals); and measuring, monitoring and verification (technologists and technicians in instrumentation and sampling/analysis roles, plus seismic workers to measure and monitor underground storage).

Fosh said: “This report is the start of a conversation around the specific skills to drive growth across a range of emerging, low-carbon industries. However, with uncertainty about the skills required and their availability, industry must collaborate and forge partnerships to understand the skills requirement and develop a strategy to deliver the talent needed for green transition and growth. And this includes creating diverse apprenticeship standards that will reflect today’s technologies and industry needs.

“Unless industry can access the next generation of talent – including engineers, scientists, technicians and operators – any plan for a just transition will fall short. That means harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of younger people to tackle the climate crisis by showing how science and technology is a route to making meaningful change, as well as a rewarding career.”

The report also provides recommendations for the future CCUS workforce, including promoting careers outreach programmes; raising awareness of the sector’s importance in securing net zero; and undertaking research to understand equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce and identify best practices.