Oil and gas sector 'facing skills crisis'

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A section of the BP Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) oil platformImage source, Reuters

The oil and gas sector is facing a skills crisis, according to a survey of more than 17,000 industry professionals.

The Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report says cuts to graduate recruitment and apprenticeships during the oil downturn are to blame.

It expects the situation to worsen over the next five years, resulting in increased costs and less productivity.

The report says engineering roles are facing the biggest skills shortage.

It suggests many possible recruits are attracted to the "technology" sector rather than oil and gas.

The survey found that 40% of respondents felt that a crisis had already hit the industry, with a further 28% expecting it to take hold in the next five years.

'Playing catch-up'

Almost half said they were worried about the impact of the talent crisis.

Janette Marx, chief executive officer at Airswift, said: "Having cut graduate schemes, apprenticeships and training during the downturn, the sector is playing catch-up.

"But it's making good progress. And, most importantly, companies now realise that no matter what happens economically, they need to consistently invest in their talent strategies."

The report also found that young people were less attracted to big salaries than in the past - and instead wanted roles which offered promotion opportunities.

Competition for engineering talent is now fierce with tech firms in particular going after the same students who would historically have flocked to oil and gas.

A further talent drain is also anticipated, with 42% of respondents saying they would consider a move to the renewables sector in the next three years.

Career growth

Hannah Peet, managing director at Energy Jobline, said: "Competition between sectors remains as fierce as ever, but oil and gas employers are well set to succeed.

"Leaders and hiring managers recognise that the world has changed and the desires of young people are different, with only 30% of those aged under 25 believing that higher pay effectively attracts talent.

"The trick now is to respond by working to provide individuals with more opportunities to grow their careers, travel and work with new technologies."

A separate survey has reported that confidence in the outlook of the UK sector has risen dramatically over the last two years.

The DNV GL Industry Outlook reported that 71% of workers surveyed believed the prospects looked good, compared with 18% surveyed two years ago.

Dr Alix Thom, Oil & Gas UK's workforce engagement and skills manager, said: "This interesting report shows how different sectors of the energy industry share similar challenges when recruiting skilled people.

"We know that there could be up to 10,000 new roles required in our industry in exciting new areas of data science, analytics and advanced materials development...

"Our pioneering industry will continue to offer many exciting and fulfilling opportunities for many years to come."