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OPITO and RGU Oil & Gas Institute launch UKCS skills study


A major new in-depth labour market analysis of the oil and gas industry is to be carried out to determine the conditions of the sector and to shape a new skills strategy for the continued success of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) over the next 20 years.

Paul de Leeuw April 2017Led by safety, standards and workforce development organisation, OPITO, the project will be carried out by the Robert Gordon University’s Oil and Gas Institute. The intelligence will be used to deliver an overarching plan that identifies and supports the skills requirements for the industry over the next two decades to ensure the workforce of today and tomorrow has the necessary expertise to fulfil the potential of the North Sea.

According to the latest figures available from Oil & Gas UK, in 2016 over 330,000 jobs supported oil and gas production in the region, of which around 186,000 were direct posts. The new high level assessment will forecast the expected job roles required to service the industry by 2035 by using technology and industry trends to evaluate how some of the positions will change.

Representatives from operating companies and supply chain firms from across UK businesses will take part in the data gathering exercise. The review will assess the current number of jobs directly supporting the sector in the UK, identify common roles and categorise these into broad job families.

OPITO will work with the Scottish Government through SDS and with the UK Government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure alignment with government objectives.

OPITO chief executive and Energy Jobs Taskforce member John McDonald said: “My discussions with industry stakeholders and within the Energy Jobs Taskforce identified a clear need for a project which would help us to define a skills strategy for oil and gas. The industry has undergone a number of significant changes over the past few years. These changes include the increased use of new technology and data driven processes in order to keep the sector viable in these challenging times. This means that the skills required by the workforce are changing.

“Other factors the project will consider include lower commodity prices, an increase in decommissioning activity and the application of new technology. Combined with an increased use of robotics and automation, these elements could materially impact the number and types of jobs required to support the industry between now and 2035. Knowing what the key influences are for the future market and how these will affect skills and training requirements is essential to ensure the longevity of the North Sea sector.”

Director of the RGU Oil & Gas Institute, Professor Paul de Leeuw, said: “We have completed different types of skills reviews for a number of countries and we now look forward to working with OPITO to deliver this important project for the UK. The project is aimed at helping the industry to successfully develop a skilled, well-trained workforce to meet the needs of the next generation of activity in the UKCS.

It is anticipated that some of the report’s high level findings will be delivered in time to support the oil and gas industry’s sector deal submission later this year.”