One of Spain's semi-autonomous regions is making a bid to lure Scots green energy workers by offering tax breaks to relocate despite Scotland already facing critical labour shortages.

Publicly funded Bizkaia Talent aims to attract workers to the Basque Country of Spain. It says that Scotland is facing "critical labour shortages" in the green energy industry that "threaten the industry's future".

The not-for-profit body, which is funded by the provincial government of Biscay and the Basque Government said it is particularly targeting green talent among what it says is the 25,000 Spanish nationals in Scotland but was open to all. It comes as concerns grow about a skills gap in producing supporting Scotland's green energy revolution.

Scotland has produced only around a tenth of the offshore wind jobs forecast by ministers as it aimed to make the country the green energy capital of Europe.

The latest official renewable energy economy estimates show that 3100 full time jobs in offshore wind in 2021.

Ten years ago the Scottish Government were championing the desire to be the green energy capital of Europe with around 28,000 jobs in offshore wind alone.

READ MORE: Staff in Scots mutiny plot as green jobs lost to cheap foreign labour

Union leaders raised concerns that the number of jobs created in offshore wind has not kept up with the amount of revenue being generated - indicating there is a 16,000 jobs gap leaving Scotland 'shortchanged' while ministers have been seeking to make the nation a destination of choice.

The Herald: Seagreen. Picture: SSE

Analysis from renowned business consultants PwC last year states that a significant green energy skills gap of around 200,000 workers is emerging that must be addressed if the UK is to deliver on long term energy security and meet its energy transition targets.

The recruiters, however, believe Scotland is well-placed to accommodate green talent, already home to a number of business giants, with Basque Country-based Iberdrola owning ScottishPower.

Representatives began their quest to get people to relocate with a meeting at The Dome in Edinburgh on Tuesday. So far an initial contact has been made by 40 people with three UK nationals.

Promotions relating to the drive state: "The Basque Country targets Scottish green talent amid talent wars."

Bizkaia Talent sstrategy combines tax incentives and publicly funded relocation and headhunting services, which complement the Spanish central government’s visa schemes.

They say the tax break is "tempting given more than a third of Scottish people say they will consider leaving the country if income tax rates are increased further".

Bizkaia Talent, which is attached to the Department of Economic Promotion at the provincial government of Biscay, says that would-be green workers would be offered a "holistic relocation package" including more than ten years of income tax breaks.

The government of Biscay, one of three provinces of the Basque Country, has introduced an income tax rebate of 50% for up to 11 years. There is a flat 30% tax exemption and a further 20% of income can be tax deductible for relocation expenses including housing, flights to their home country and local language learning.

Ivan Jimenez, head of Bizkaia Talent said: "The Basques lack enough talent to grow their green industry at its maximum potential, and know that Scotland has a very strong green industry with established links to the Basque Country, so is an ideal place they can source talent from."

He said that there are new technologies but "not enough talent yet".

He added: "Both Scotland and the Basque Country have important strategies in this field, along with Denmark and others, which makes Scotland a good location for the Basque Country to scout the high-skilled workers it is missing in this field," he said.

"Iberdrola is one of the most important companies in the sector at the global level, and in the Basque Country, offers countless opportunities for green talent to develop their expertise. But there are other big companies in the Basque Country, such as Petronor or Solarpack, which offer similar opportunities.”

In targetting workers in Scotland, the recruiters said they were aware that while Scotland was "a leading hub for the green energy industry" it was also "critical labour shortages that threaten the industry’s future".

The Herald:

They say Scotland is "well placed to accommodate green talent, already home to a number of business giants, including Iberdrola, the world’s second-largest energy supplier".

They acknowledged that difficulties, such as post-Brexit conditions, were "compounding Scotland’s challenge to attract and retain top talent". And they accept that Brexit has exacerbated the cost of living crisis and "impedes the easy recruitment of European workers".

"The Basques are strong contenders to the title of progressive, happy and healthy living destination, and avid promoters of their region’s cultural identity," they said. "Part of Bizkaia Talent’s pitch is the region’s 13th position in the world happiness ranking, with one of the best quality of life indexes in Europe, and its glowing ranking in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Wellbeing Indicator.

The Basque Country is also leading the way for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, with the United Nations selecting Bilbao, one of the main cities in the Basque Country, as the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Local Coalition 2030 for the implementation of SDGs at the regional and local level."

The semi-autonomous Basque Country is one of Europe’s oldest regions, with an estimated 22% of its population aged 65 and over.

The agency has said that the loss of skills to retirement, coupled with an exodus of talent following the 2008 downturn, forced the region to turn to "proactive and innovative talent attraction policies" and come up with what is considered the "most comprehensive approach" to tackling critical skills shortages in the EU.

They describe their recruitment approach as a "full package approach", which comprises setting up personal meetings or Zoom calls with individuals and talking through the benefits of migrating — including what they can offer in terms of income tax rebates and relocation packages.

They say the tailored approach helped them relocate 700 skilled workers to the Basque Country in the past five years alone.

According to Bizkaia Talent, the energy sector is a fundamental mainstay of Basque industry and firms based there generate 63,000 jobs around the world, 21,000 of which are in the Basque Country.

The analysis from PwC estimates that there are currently 270,000 skilled workers within the oil and gas sector with transferable skills but around 20% are expected to retire by 2030, leaving only 216,000 transferable workers to help plug the 400,000 jobs needed to build the net zero energy workforce across adjacent areas such as nuclear, hydrogen and renewables.

The Herald:

Analysis using the latest Office of National Statistics' low carbon and renewable energy estimates showed that while in 2014 every £1m of income made by offshore wind firms translated to seven jobs for workers - this has plummeted to just one job per £1m of turnover in 2021.

While offshore wind turnover has risen over 27-fold over the seven years to 2021 - from £95m to £2.594bn the number of jobs only rose by nearly four-and-a-half times from 700 to 3100.

Union leaders say that if job numbers had kept pace with turnover, Scotland would have had over 19,000 jobs.

In 2010, a Scottish Government report suggested the offshore wind sector alone could offer the potential for 28,000 direct jobs.

Thirteen years ago, the potential wind and marine energy power in the Pentland Firth - where the north-east Atlantic meets the North Sea – led the then First Minister Alex Salmond to dub it the "Saudi Arabia of Renewables" with Scottish firm BiFab at the time making turbines for offshore wind farms.

In November, 2010, Mr Salmond, first announced a £70m investment fund to finance the offshore wind sector.

He said by 2020, 28,000 jobs could be created directly servicing domestic and worldwide offshore wind markets and add £7.1 billion in value to Scotland's economy.

Opening the Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference in Edinburgh, he urged private finance leaders to seize the multi-billion pound opportunities arising from the renewable and low carbon technology revolution.