Offshore Europe: Princess Anne urges oil industry to tackle skills shortage with female engineers

Princess Anne discusses oil and gas industry concerns with women at the Wise stand.
Princess Anne discusses oil and gas industry concerns with women at the Wise stand.

Princess Anne has backed a campaign to get more females into the oil and gas industry.

The Princess Royal joined hundreds of businesswomen at a specially-organised Offshore Europe lunch yesterday, where she heard about fresh attempts to boost their numbers both on and offshore.

The UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe – a statistic which is worrying the sector, given its struggle to find enough skilled staff to meet growing demand. The princess said she was “delighted” to be at the exhibition and to be given the chance to appeal to oil bosses to encourage more women into the industry.

She also paid her own tribute to the four people who died in the Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland last month.

“The industry has had a difficult week up here. I would like to add my condolences for the family of those who lost their lives,” she said.

“I am a frequent flier in helicopters and you always take a deep breath when you hear about something like that.”

She said that women were still being steered towards posts traditionally held by females – and urged industry leaders to make sure women are being given a chance in engineering.

“The oil and gas provides a challenging and rewarding place for men and women – but we do recognise that there is a shortage of people with science and technology skills on offer,” she said.

“It takes the best and brightest people to deliver the industry’s ambitions. The key is that girls must be given the opportunity to develop their skills in this sector, or in any field they choose.”

She added: “It is important to work with industry and education to inspire the girls to look at all the careers that are available, and all the opportunities that are available.”

Hundreds of top-level female executives attended the seminar, joined by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

He said: “The oil and gas industry in Scotland presents huge opportunities now and in the future, with up to 24billion barrels of oil and gas still to be extracted and predictions from Oil and Gas UK that the industry will be active beyond 2050, there are clear opportunities for a long and varied career within the industry. It is therefore vital that we make sure that we are not missing out on the talent that women could, and undoubtedly should, bring to this important industry.”

Princess Anne later attended the stand of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), of which she is a patron.

Wise, based at Edinburgh Napier University, is funded by the Scottish Government to take positive action to increase the number of women moving into technical roles.

Centre manager Linda Somerville said: “The oil and gas industry has a skills shortage and yet there are qualified women, and those currently studying, who could do these jobs.

“This mismatch needs to be addressed by employers thinking more widely about the culture of the workplace and how they can adapt to recruit and retain women in oil and gas.”