THOUSANDS of energy jobs will be lost over the next decade but many will be replaced by posts in the digital, financial and creative sectors as the north-east economy prepares for life after oil.

A new report has warned that Aberdeen will feel the effects of the oil sector downturn for years to come, with another 5,500 energy sector jobs expected to be lost by 2027. But the job losses will be partly offset by strong growth in the digital, creative and financial service sectors, according to the study.

The oil job losses figure was highlighted in a city council report into a draft regional skills strategy published by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

The strategy is looking to address the oil downturn’s impact on the region’s skills base.

Oil and Gas UK said the oil sector supported 300,000 jobs in the UK last September, down from 460,000 in 2014.

The strategy authors said it was clear that the oil downturn had now impacted other sectors, including retail, hospitality, transport and property, and warned the north-east must build a more balanced economic future if it is to prosper.

They also warned the current slump had been longer and deeper than previous downturns, and it was “uncertain” whether the sector would “return to playing such a dominant role” in the regional economy.

On a more positive note, they predict there will continue to be “opportunities” in the sector for years to come and prioritise ways of tackling skills challenges.

The first action involves “responding to the current downturn” and highlights several initiatives created to help oil workers, including the Transition Training Fund (TTF).

SDS has approved 2,825 applications for funding from oil workers who wish to retrain through the TTF, which was launched by the Scottish Government in 2016.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK said attracting fresh investment was vital. Adam Davey, Oil & Gas UK’s market intelligence manager, said: “Predicting employment levels in the oil and gas industry will depend on future levels of investment and the type of activity that will be taking place on the UK Continental Shelf, which is why the key priority is to attract fresh investment into the basin to drive new activity and protect jobs.”

But Tommy Campbell, regional officer for the Unite trade union, said: “The news that there are going to be fewer jobs in the coming years is certainly very disappointing. There are plenty of job opportunities that could be created if there was investment. We need to invest, particularly in young people.”

SDS’s regional skills planning lead, Allison Carrington, said: “The regional skills strategy for Aberdeen and Shire aims to respond to the downturn in the oil and gas industry; support economic transition; work with partners in the skills system and support school to work transitions.”