The chief executive of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has forecasted “some difficult times ahead” as the industry embraces digital innovations.
Colette Cohen was speaking following news last week that Aker Solutions is consulting on nearly 100 Aberdeen job cuts, arising from “digitally enabled services” for its engineering and manufacturing work.
Ms Cohen leads the OGTC, which supports projects including those which focus on automation and digitalisation.
She said the industry will need to be “very careful” about how it manages traditional jobs and moving workers to new roles as the industry transitions.
She added: “I think through every industrial revolution you have seen that there are winners and losers.
“What we are relatively fortunate about in this case is that upskilling is an option in many locations but also job changes will occur.
“So during that period of transition we’re going to have to be very careful about how we manage what I would call traditional existing roles and the transition into maybe more data analytical and data science roles.
“I think that is going to be a bit of a delicate dance to get it right and I’m sure every now and again a ball will be dropped because if we don’t put enough planning in place and we don’t have a big enough vision of where we’re going it will be very hard to get it right.”
Earlier this year skills body Opito and the Robert Gordon University produced a report stating 4,500 workers in roles will be needed by 2025 in roles that don’t currently exist like automation and data science.
It followed a similar report in 2018 setting out requirements out to 2035 – on both occasions emphasising the opportunity to upskill staff, rather than job cuts.
However union bosses warned the findings “don’t add up” with employers’ concerns around costs.
Aker Solutions, who warned of a drip in earnings in 2020 during its third quarter results yesterday, said the jobs decision related to its global focus on delivering greater efficiencies.
Ms Cohen added: “Sometimes technology is moving so fast that maybe the transition is too short to effectively manage the change in whether you’re upskilling or maybe just a change in demand.
“So I think there will be some difficult times ahead of us over the next five years.”