The UK’s burgeoning oil and gas industry, which employs upwards of 440,000 people and contributes billions to the economy, has unveiled plans for a nationwide initiative drawing people of all ages and from all walks of life together to discover what the oil and gas industry offers them.
National Oil & Gas Skills Week was unveiled yesterday (Wednesday, June 25) by industry skills organisation OPITO. It will see everything from science, engineering and maths, specialist workshops and careers sessions to debates, interactive challenges and much more take place across the UK with events in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Norwich and Great Yarmouth already confirmed. More are planned, including a number in London.
The Week, which has been welcomed by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and Business Secretary Vince Cable, comes in response to the need to attract thousands of new recruits to the sector over the next three years, with tens of thousands more needed in the long term.
At its centre will be a Doors Open Day during which operators, drillers and companies throughout the Aberdeen supply chain will be asked to throw open their doors and let the public see the innovative jobs, techniques and technologies being used to push the boundaries of exploration and production.
“The UK oil and gas industry is a global success story, responsible for some of the most ground-breaking innovations and technologies the world has ever seen with the skills and expertise honed here in the North Sea exported around the globe,” said OPITO UK managing director John McDonald.
“This is the first time, however, that the industry has ever looked to do something of this size and scale to showcase those achievements, to redress the misconception that working in oil and gas means working offshore and to highlight the fantastic career opportunities the sector offers a wide range of people.
“The reality is that just 10% of jobs in the oil and gas industry are based offshore. We hope that through this large-scale event, we can help people understand where the opportunities are for them, and help the industry engage with all those it needs to target to fill the skills gap now and in the future.”
National Oil & Gas Skills Week will see a jam-packed programme of events take place throughout the UK for people of all ages:
Highlights of the schools programme include hands-on energy sessions for more than 600 pupils at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh and Glasgow Science Centre; as well as a pupil-student-professional speed networking event in Aberdeen to link young people with those studying for and working in their target careers. There will also be a ‘teach-the-teachers’ professional development session in the East of England to inform career advisors and provide an insight into new projects and likely employment opportunities.
The need to attract more women into the industry will be addressed with a Sticky Floors or Glass Ceiling workshop hosted by Edinburgh Napier University looking at the internal barriers which can hold women back. In addition to this, a Mechanics in Practice session with the Institute of Physics will aim to encourage the uptake of key science, technology, engineering and maths subjects among girls.
Subsea UK will stage a ‘Mobilising the Military’ event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on November 12th, aimed at helping the oil and gas industry access talented ex-servicemen and women; while the issues around the skills gap will come under the spotlight at The Great Crew Change Debate in Great Yarmouth on November 13th.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The National Oil & Gas Skills Week will allow us all to understand current and future industry demands and we look forward to continue working with industry to develop the skilled workforce now and for the future. We have seen the recently published the Wood Commission, which recognises the importance of vocational education to help our young people better understand the world of work and to open up their future ambition and opportunities especially in sectors like energy. The Scottish Government has now provided £1 million for the establishment of industry-led Invest in Young People groups which will make crucial links between employers and education. We are also committed to working with local authorities and other partners to develop these groups.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The oil and gas industry offers rewarding careers to ambitious people all over the country. As we rebalance our economy the Government is working closely with British firms to bridge skills gaps, boost opportunities within supply chains and help meet the technological challenges of the future.
“National Oil and Gas Skills Week will complement this long term-partnership with the industry by helping recruit a new generation of world-class technicians, scientists and engineers. As well as building successful and lucrative careers, newcomers to the sector could play a central role in maintaining Britain’s international standing, economic stability and energy security.”
OPITO is urging as many employers as possible to get involved and support Skills Week.
“We are looking for organisations engaged with the oil and gas industry across the UK – from operators and SMEs to education bodies, science centres, recruiters and trade associations – to get involved and help make National Oil & Gas Skills Week a success,” said McDonald.
“There are a huge number of opportunities to support the week. This can be as simple as signing up to take part in Doors Open Day, deciding to run a small in-house event under the Skills Week banner or getting involved in sponsoring some of the activities.
“This is a very ambitious initiative but it has the potential to really challenge people’s perceptions of the oil and gas industry as something that doesn’t apply to them. It is the avenue for everyone from school pupils, graduates and teachers through to mid-career changers and those returning after a career break to see first-hand what the oil and gas industry can offer.”
“It is also the platform for industry to celebrate its achievements and for individual companies to showcase what they are doing, the opportunities they offer and the skills they need going forward.”