Oil and gas skills strategy reveals rapidly changing sector

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Oil and gas skills strategy reveals rapidly changing sector

ABERDEEN — Energy skills body OPITO has set out a strategy to prepare the UK oil and gas industry for a shift in skills requirements over the next six years.

OPITO’s Skills Landscape 2019 – 2025 report, part of the UKCS Workforce Dynamics research series, reveals technology advances, internationalization and the transition to a lower carbon future are accelerating changing skills demands in the sector.

It is expected that around 80% of the current workforce will still be working within the industry in 2025, taking into account natural attrition and retirement. The opportunity to retain these skills, as well as upskill and reskill the workforce as the industry adapts to take advantage of new technologies and different ways of working, is substantial.

In just six years it is estimated the industry needs to attract 25,000 new people and 4,500 of those will be into completely new roles that do not currently exist in areas such as data science, automation and new materials. Future roles may include ‘Artificial Intelligence Business Developer’, ‘Virtual Reality Journey Builder’ and ‘3D Material Scientist’.

Built on four strategic components – Retain, Retrain, Recruit, and Renew – the report, led by OPITO in partnership with Robert Gordon University’s Oil & Gas Institute, is designed to help the sector develop an increasingly flexible, multi-skilled and technology-enabled workforce.

A route map has been developed to bring organizations together to deliver on targeted actions. Coordinated and facilitated by OPITO, on behalf of industry, the route map includes activities such as developing new education and training courses, technology focused apprenticeships and initiatives that support future recruitment and skills diversity.

Mark Cullens, director of strategic engagement at OPITO said, “Oil and gas skills requirements are changing rapidly. Equipping the current workforce with the skills to adapt to this dynamic business environment is essential and work needs to begin right away.

“We have the potential to leverage UK skills and capabilities around the world, but close collaboration and partnership is needed to make an effective and lasting impact. We require a sharp focus on supporting the industry to take advantage of the benefits of digitization and energy transition, creating a more technology-enabled, fluid and multi-skilled workforce of tomorrow. OPITO is working with industry and various stakeholders to coordinate and facilitate a route map of actions to help support the industry’s Vision 2035 and the role of the sector in the low carbon economy.”

The Skills Landscape report was published at an Oil & Gas UK Business Breakfast, sponsored by Deloitte today (Thursday, May 2, 2019) which featured a panel of industry speakers including Ariel Flores, BP’s North Sea Regional President, Lesley Birse, President of People and Organisation for Europe, Africa, ME, Asia and Australia at Wood and Sophie Ewen, currently an OGTAP (Oil & Gas Technical Apprentice Programme) apprentice working with Chevron.

To help determine the changing oil and gas skills requirements, 1,000 people from around 140 organisations responded to a detailed skills survey and supplemented the data already received covering 35,000 UKCS roles.

Other key findings from the report include:

28% of people’s time is currently spent on repetitive, transactional activities which are more likely to become automated over time. Upskilling and reskilling the current workforce will enable people to carry out their role more efficiently and prepare them for different tasks and responsibilities.
There is a need to upskill the sector’s leadership and management functions to ensure informed decision making with respect to technology adoption and change management. Developing future leaders should also be a priority.
The way in which the workforce wants to learn and develop new skills is also changing. New training methods such as virtual and augmented reality, simulation and situational analysis are becoming the preferred learning method. The report shows that people want short but formally structured ‘nuggets’ of learning, increasingly delivered through simulation.

Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of Robert Gordon University’s Oil and Gas Institute, commented: “The digital transformation of the energy sector is already underway and we are beginning to see a real change in requirements to support this. With a substantial proportion of the existing workforce to be upskilled and with over 25,000 new people entering the industry by 2025, we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure the UK retains its position as a world class basin for energy skills.

“This will require a new level of collaboration between industry, governments, agencies and the education sector to ensure the present and future workforce are equipped with the requisite skills. There is real prize here for the UK and there is a collective responsibility to future-proof the skills and capabilities in the sector.”

Deirdre Michie, CEO & Gas UK said, “We were delighted to host the launch of this vital report at our Business Breakfast this morning. Having a clear understanding of our skill requirements sets the platform for retaining and recruiting the people needed to deliver Vision 2035. Having a workforce of highly skilled, adaptable and creative talent will help ensure the long-term future of our industry as we continue to play a key role in the evolving energy mix.”

The Skills Landscape report follows the 2018 UKCS Workforce Dynamics: Shaping the Skills of Tomorrow review, that assessed the changing skills requirements over the next 20 years to support industry’s Vision 2035, which aims to secure another generation of production and double exports.

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