Skills shortages are the biggest challenge to the sector with up to 15,000 people needed in the industry in the next five to 10 years.
Larraine Boorman, managing director of oil and gas industry skills body OPITO, said: “Our industry is in a prime position to provide long-term, exciting careers for a wide range of people at a time when other sectors are declining and there is high unemployment, particularly among 16-24-year-olds.
“A lot of exciting activity is ongoing to alert people to the fantastic careers opportunities in the oil and gas both now and in the future. OPITO has always seen the value in engaging with school pupils across the UK to promote the diversity of careers within the sector and develop joint education strategies which encourage the uptake of key science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.
“In the short-term though, the lack of up-skills training to capture transferable skills is the biggest human resources issue for the oil and gas industry. The mid-gap of maturity and experience is where the problem lies.
“Widening the pool of talent available to the industry is essential if the recruitment difficulties identified by employers are to be addressed.”
To address this urgently, OPITO has created the fast-track Transformation Training Programmes (TTP) for upskilling workers with knowledge and experience from other, potentially declining industries.
A short full-time training programme which takes a competence-based approach and is directly linked to job vacancies in the sector, it provides the oil and gas sector with a structured mechanism for replenishing the workforce and managing upturns in the long term.
Following pilots, funding was recently secured from the Government’s £2million Energy Skills Challenge Fund which will be used to develop and grow the programme further and OPITO are currently finalising the next batch of courses due to launch in March.
“The North Sea industry, both in Aberdeen and at other energy hubs throughout the UK, is seeing unprecedented levels of activity and positive projections for 2013 and beyond. Transitional Training opportunities provide an immediate and effective solution to the industry demand for skilled competent workers who can use their experience to further their careers and drive the oil and gas sector forward,” said Mrs Boorman.
“A total of 100% of the 20 mid-career changer trainees, aged between 20 and 50, who completed our pilot courses in 2011 transferred into oil and gas, with several gaining two to three job offers.
“Importantly, the model ensures that core key skills sets can be re-utilised and not lost if there is a market failure or downturn in other industries.”