UK oil, gas industry needs 40,000 new workers from now to 2035

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The UK oil and gas industry will likely need to recruit more than 40,000 new people from now to 2035 to offset natural attrition and ensure the sector can support Vision 2035 and the broader energy diversification agenda, according to a new report by global energy skills body Opito.

The UKCS Workforce Dynamics Review, produced in partnership with Robert Gordon University’s Oil and Gas Institute, estimates that the UK oil and gas sector will require a total of around 130,000 direct and indirect workers by 2035. Although this is lower than the current figure of 170,000, the report anticipates that over 80,000 workers are likely to retire, or leave the sector for other reasons, in the next 17 years.

With around 10,000 new workers expected to be needed in new areas such as data science, data analytics, robotics, material science, change management and remote operations, the report states that closer collaboration is required between the industry and training providers to up-skill and re-skill the workforce to enhance technology capabilities.

“As the industry emerges from the downturn, it is crucial that we take a longer term look at the future UK oil and gas skills requirements. A new skills strategy will help us to take action now to prepare for emerging roles and ensure the existing workforce is being given opportunities to up-skill,” John McDonald, CEO of Opito, said in an organization statement.

“Whilst total employment will fall over the next two decades, this will be a more gradual process than the sharp hit experienced over the last three years. If the industry can work together to achieve ambitions around production and energy diversification, tens of thousands more roles can be safeguarded and our industry will continue to be one of the key industrial sectors in the UK for years to come,” he added.

Commenting on the report, Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of the RGU Oil and Gas Institute, said training providers and universities had a “critical role” to help “future proof” the sector.

“With over 40,000 people potentially entering the industry over the next 20 years and with a substantial proportion of the workforce to be up-skilled, there is a critical role for training providers, vocational institutes and universities to help future-proof the sector and to ensure the UK retains its reputation as a leading energy basin,” Leeuw said in an RGU statement.

In a comment sent to Rigzone, Colette Cohen, CEO of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said the Opito review provided “helpful insights”.

“The world is rapidly changing, driven by a digital revolution, ever-increasing connectivity and a fundamental energy transition to a lower carbon economy. Automation and digitization are transforming our jobs, our workforce and our relationship with work,” Cohen said.

“This is creating exciting opportunities for how we use technology to improve both our industry’s performance and our country’s productivity,” Cohen added.

Representatives from operating companies and supply chain firms from across the UK took part in the Opito report.

Vision 2035 was created by the UK’s Oil and Gas Authority, in collaboration with industry body Oil and Gas UK. This vision is based on maximizing economic recovery from the UKCS and doubling the international footprint of the UK based supply chain. It also captures the ambition of the industry to produce an additional 3 billion barrels of oil and gas by 2035.

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