Adapting to renewable energy needs a workforce with the skills to make the change, but the current green skills gap around the country shows an urgent need for training. Read how Dundee City Council is addressing this through greater investment and innovation in renewable energy systems, and by providing training. Supporting the development of renewable energy and providing skills training for local workers forms Action 33 of the 50-point Climate Action Plan for Councils.

24 Apr 2024

How is Action 33 tackling the climate crisis?

Local efforts to cut carbon will fail without a workforce with the skills to deliver the solutions. Job creation in renewable energy will far outweigh job losses in the fossil fuel sector, but the current skills gap shows an urgent need for training. 

Dundee City Council is addressing this through greater investment and innovation in renewable energy systems, and ensuring skills are available by providing training. 

Dundee’s strategic focus in achieving a low-carbon future is to create long-term, sustainable jobs in the region, tackle fuel poverty, and support and encourage the transition to low-carbon energy and transport solutions. As part of this, Dundee City Council is supporting renewable energy generation by encouraging multiple new developments such as offshore wind projects, and attracting investment in low-carbon and sustainable innovation companies to the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc. Linked to this, the council's backing for green skills training is helping to attract investment in renewables, as well as providing opportunities for local people.

The local authority is driving a collaborative approach, working with a range of agencies including the Scottish government, businesses, universities and colleges to create new opportunities for the city.

Encouraging renewables business development

Invest Dundee is the brand that highlights the strengths of Dundee for investment in general, as well as support for renewable energy developments. Key attractors include:

  • £1 billion waterfront project with investment in public realm, V&A Dundee, office- and mixed-use developments, and the development of Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP).
  • Opportunities at Dundee Port and other key industrial sites across the city are also helping to attract offshore wind as well as low-carbon energy and sustainable transport companies, projects and services to the city. 
  • The council is also a partner and steering group member in Forth & Tay Offshore, which provides a regional collaboration to attract business investment, supply chain and skills development.

Skills training

The authority sits on the steering group for the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Skills Council. This fosters new partnerships across the region’s educational institutions, training providers, project developers in offshore wind and government agencies aimed at developing and creating a skilled workforce for the sustainability sector.

The council is also encouraging investment by boosting local training opportunities, through key partnerships with stakeholders such as MSIP Skills Academy, Scottish government agencies, Skills Development Scotland and local educational establishments. It’s played an active role in the creation of Energy Training East, an alliance of Tayside’s universities and colleges providing skills training ranging from apprenticeships and technical courses to graduate and post-graduate teaching and research. Bringing this alliance together enables training to be offered across a full range of relevant engineering skills as well as other skills such as project management.

What impact has the project had?

Several developments indicate the early success of the strategy:

1. MSIP Skills Academy is a collaboration between Michelin, Dundee City Council, Dundee and Angus College and Scottish Enterprise to create a skills training centre at the former tyre manufacturing site. The Skills Academy opened its doors in November 2023 and will provide dedicated skills training to current and future employees of companies located at MSIP and across the sector, through a comprehensive range of training focused on the skills needs of companies. The curriculum and delivery style of the MSIP Skills Academy builds on the strong legacy of Dundee and Michelin, inspiring new generations of engineers, technicians and operators to upskill for design and manufacture in sustainable mobility and other low-carbon sectors (such as wind and other renewable technologies).

“The city’s physical transformation will only succeed in delivering results if it’s coupled with job creation and skills and training opportunities. That is why the Skills Academy is such an important step forward for the whole of Dundee. Looking forward, the Skills Academy will help ensure that Dundonians and local businesses are best placed to take up emerging opportunities in offshore wind, advanced manufacturing, mobility and other technologies such as robotics.”

Councillor John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council


2. The establishment of the Skills Academy at MSIP saw over 123 jobs created before it even opened. The aim is to ultimately create new jobs that will help to compensate for the 800 jobs that were lost when the tyre factory closed.

3. Forth Ports Ltd has invested over £40 million to improve its facilities at the Port of Dundee to ensure they're fit for purpose and capable of meeting the demanding requirements of both existing and emerging markets. The Port is now home to Scotland’s only custom-built renewables hub where turbine blades, towers and nacelles (which house the generators) will be pre-assembled.

4. Over 2.5 GW of offshore wind farm projects have now been given consent. These projects are capitalising on training provided by the Energy Skills Partnership, which the council is a partner of, that builds a network of Scotland’s further education providers to create a local and regional trained workforce to support renewable energy growth. 

Projects include the 450 MW NnG Offshore Wind Farm, for which pre-assembly of turbine components began in June 2023. The farm will be fully operational in 2024 and will generate enough low-carbon energy to power 375,000 Scottish homes per year. It will join the Green wind farm, currently Scotland’s largest, which became fully operational in October 2023 and for which Dundee’s green workforce was similarly crucial with 141 construction jobs and an expectation of 410 jobs created overall. Finally, the Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm will see 50+ jobs created at the Port of Dundee’s renewables hub, a significant contract which will last until 2026. With these projects, Dundee has now firmly established a reputation as a nationally leading base for wind power.

“The Port of Dundee is an incredibly important asset, not only for the city but for the renewables sector more generally. It’s strategically very well placed to support and deliver key pieces of the infrastructure that the UK will require in the future.”

Councillor John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council


Three men in high vis jackets and hard hats posing for photo
Councillor John Alexander (left), Project Director Adam Ezzamel (centre) and Director of Energy at Forth Ports David Webster (right) © Peter Devlin

What made this work?

The fundamental reason for Dundee’s success is the prioritisation of collaborative partnerships. The council has worked in partnership across the board, supporting the development of training programmes with local colleges and universities, and working with multiple renewables groups as part of a cluster approach designed to attract more businesses to the area. Companies and renewables organisations provide direct input on the type of skills needed, and local colleges and universities ensure that these skills can be provided.

The development of renewable energy projects and low-carbon skills training directly relates to the local authority's priorities. Dundee’s Climate Action Plan features a package of renewable energy actions which the council intends to progress, while supporting business growth and creating jobs in the offshore wind sector through the development of the regional cluster approach.

What resources were needed?

The council has a business development team with individual leads in different areas including energy, and works closely with the council’s city development teams and the sustainability team to market Dundee’s capabilities as a hub for renewable developments.

Lessons from Dundee

Council commitment 

Political will is critical for a council to support sustainable energy transitions. Dundee City Council’s leader and management team have been proactive in developing new partnerships to drive investment in renewable energy.

It's also vital to communicate renewable energy and skills strategies clearly internally, allowing relevant staff across services to buy into the project and adopt a forward-looking vision for the area.

Land use 

To attract investment from low-carbon industries, a strategic approach to land use is important. With only a finite amount of quayside space and the high cost of land in this space, it's essential to look at other sites in the city. It's important to create areas of development that can take advantage of terrain suitable for constructing manufacturing facilities, supply chain development and investment, or where robust infrastructure for renewable energy already exists, such as local council-owned industrial parks. 

Government policy

Dundee was able to demonstrate how it aligned with government climate strategies. The Scottish government has outlined its ambition to become a renewable energy exporter, with offshore wind energy being a key driver for this.

Useful information

Related projects

We've found some examples of other council activity on this topic.

Friends of the Earth's view

Dundee is showing how investment in green skills training is an essential element to increase UK renewable energy generation to meet the need for a clean and resilient energy supply. 

All councils should be taking steps to boost green skills training, including carrying out green skills audits and working with local education providers to develop and promote green skills training. 

Government funding is also required to create thousands of new green apprenticeships, particularly for marginalised communities and areas.

Friends of the Earth is showcasing specific examples of good practice in tackling climate change, but that doesn’t mean we endorse everything a council is doing. 

This case study was produced by Ashden and Friends of the Earth. It was originally published in April 2022 and was last updated in April 2024.

Climate Action