Young people should consider how their skills transfer to the wider energy remit, according to the boss of industry body the Energy Institute.
Louise Kingham said those working in oil and gas should consider a sideways move into renewables or nuclear.
She spoke exclusively to Energy Voice in the wake of more than an estimated 6,000 industry job losses in Aberdeen.
Kingham, chief executive of EI, said the past 12 months of job cuts, cost reductions and oil companies pulling back spending plans would have come as a surprising blow to young people working in an industry that had been on a high for several years.
Kingham, who was in Aberdeen to attend an EI young professionals event, said the low oil price environment was challenging the entire industry, but that Aberdeen was being hit hard by the downturn.
And she added that there were options for those wishing to consider options including the nuclear and renewables sector.
“There may be transferable skills they can go and use in other parts of the industry, whether that’s nuclear, renewables or on the demand side.
“Good technologists, engineers, people with good science backgrounds who are very good analytically – all that transfers quite well, right across the sector.”
“If they feel their opportunities are not within the oil and gas industry right now, but that they have skills that they think could be applied elsewhere, they should talk to us and we’ll do what we can to help them.”
Regarding the oil and gas sector, she said: “People will have a lot of uncertainty. The industry consolidates, reforms and reshapes. People have spent a lot of time studying and getting qualified and they have had their aspirations set. Then suddenly the industry they want to work in starts to have difficult times.
“The uncertainty becomes almost compounded, because its all so new and not very well understood. What they see is the companies battening down the hatches, people losing their jobs and they start to question whether they have made the right choices and are pursuing the right career in the right industry. I can understand their concern.”
The Energy Institute (EI) is a professional body for the energy industry that aims to develop and share knowledge, skills and good practice towards a safe, secure and sustainable energy system.
Kingham added: “There can be a sense of gloom, but counter to that there is a sense of sticking with it and riding it out. There will be a future round the corner, but we’re not quite sure what it’s going to look like, but it will be there.”
She said the best advice to oil and gas professionals of all ages was to keep skills up to date and take advantage of help from trade bodies, who can offer third party support.
EI will be holding a number of workshops to help people further following the response from those looking for work or to improve their training at the Beach Ballroom event in September which saw 800 people attend.
Kingham said: “Particularly in Aberdeen, we have people who want to upskill and upgrade their professional qualifications and are now very motivated to do so and we are putting on extra workshops to help them do so. We can offer one-to-one guidance to help them do so.
“They are getting help with qualifications, help with new knowledge and they are making contacts with new people and potentially working in other areas other than oil and gas.”
With other industry bodies such as the Oil and Gas Authority and Oil and Gas UK, urging companies to retain their skills base, Kingham said companies faced tough decisions.
“Its a difficult situation. The companies are having to make difficult choices about the cuts they have to make in order to have a sustainable business.
“They don’t want to lose their best talent. I can understand why industry leaders are saying to people, ‘ride it out, don’t be scared off by this’ because you don’t want to see the talent running out.
“It’s not great for the industry reputation. The peaks and troughs are very difficult. But again you have a different perspective when you are here and live in Aberdeen.
“I think OGA, OGUK and EI – they’re all looking to sustain and build the industry here.
“It’s not an easy situation. But people have to pay their mortgages and that’s why professional bodies like EI have to be resourceful and try and introduce services that are useful when people are in a difficult situation like they might be at the moment.”
Kingham said all those in oil and gas must work together to support people who work within it.
“It’s important when there are difficult choices, the industry is seen to be doing the best that it can.
“There are still lots of positives in difficult times and its important to focus on those, for the individual and the companies,” she said.