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These oil workers could soon become teachers

Former oil and gas workers in Scotland could be heading for a career change, with a new government-backed plan aiming to retrain staff as teachers.

The Scottish government has claimed almost 10,000 jobs in the North Sea have been lost as a result of the downturn in oil prices.

A worker looks out onto the weather deck of the Armada gas condensate platform, operated by BG Group Plc, in the North Sea, off the coast of Aberdeen, U.K.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A worker looks out onto the weather deck of the Armada gas condensate platform, operated by BG Group Plc, in the North Sea, off the coast of Aberdeen, U.K.

But a new £12 million ($17 million) fund was announced at the start of February to help workers move into other roles. These included other positions in the oil and gas, energy or manufacturing industries by offering grants for retraining or further education.

However, the grants will now also support those wishing to become teachers.

"We have a highly skilled oil and gas workforce and it is important that we harness their abilities to benefit the next generation, the future of the industry and the north-east of Scotland," said Angela Constance, Scotland's education secretary, in a press release on Monday.

"Developing options within the £12 million Transition Training Fund will help ensure we don't lose valuable oil and gas sector skills."

While there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on what these workers could teach, the government said their expertise would suit subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland said the move may help to deal with staff shortages, but added that teaching standards needed to be maintained.

"The announcement will hopefully go some way to addressing the shortage of teachers in some parts of the country while also increasing the number of teachers within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects which would be a positive outcome," said a spokesperson for the council in a public statement.

Exploration and appraisal drilling in the U.K. and the North Sea has fallen to 15-year lows with only 20 wells being explored last year, according to a report released this week by oil market researchers 1Derrick.

"The issue is with drilling for new production, and the low market price makes these projects much more marginal and therefore North Sea upstream companies are carefully reviewing spending plans and some projects are being put on hold," Spencer Welch, director of oil markets and downstream for research firm IHS, told CNBC via email.

"Therefore over the medium term North Sea production is likely to continue the previous trend of a steady decline."

In the long term, however, Welch expects oil prices to rise enabling new oil production to take place.

"The North Sea industry will still be producing for many years to come."

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