Extra support for Lowestoft workers affected by oil and gas industry downturn

Lowestoft Rising change manager Phil Aves.

Lowestoft Rising change manager Phil Aves. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Oil and gas workers have been reassured there are job opportunities in Lowestoft after it was revealed hundreds of people along the east coast have lost their jobs in the industry.

Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), said between 500 and 1,000 jobs in the sector have been lost since around September last year in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas.

Although the latest set of government figures show a huge fall in unemployment across Waveney, the industry has struggled due to a dramatic collapse in oil prices.

However Phil Aves, change manager at Lowestoft Rising - an organisation working to improve the town - said: 'It is really important that as oil and gas is struggling, Lowestoft makes it really clear to the workforce that there are opportunities here.'

He said workers in some cases would need to be flexible and think about jobs in different sectors such as construction and renewable energy, where they might be able to draw on transferable skills.

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He added: 'There is such a breadth of opportunities but they are very different.

'We can't hope that the oil and gas industry is suddenly going to change.

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'We need to make sure all the other opportunities are there and that the skills and training are available to allow these people to move on.'

Julia Nix, district manager for JobCentre Plus in East Anglia, said of the Waveney job market following the recent publication of the most recent employment figures: 'There seems to be a continuing trend that there are definitely more vacancies and that employers haven't made redundancies at Christmas as they sometimes do.'

She pointed to a recruitment fair in Great Yarmouth with 1,200 vacancies and attracted many people from Lowestoft as Waveney as something that 'gives us confidence that employers have come back from Christmas and quite early started recruiting'.

JobCentre Plus said it is also working with local authorities to support those likely to be made redundant by helping to find job opportunities with transferable skills.

'We will go in to support people whilst they're in work to see if they can find another employer,' she said. 'We go in early.'

Do you work in the oil and gas industry? How have you been affected what has happened? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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