Scottish Enterprise has issued a 10-point plan to help oil and gas firms mitigate the impact of job cuts in the wake of the oil price crash.
The guide was handed out at an event organised by the Energy Jobs Taskforce, which was attended by 80 senior oil and gas industry leaders at the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel.
Maggie McGinlay, director of Energy and Clean Technologies for Scottish Enterprise, said the event was held to “get under the skin of some of the things that are not moving forward at the pace that we had hoped”.
The ten point guide offers suggestions to employers including allowing staff to take unpaid sabbaticals, or consider job sharing, salary sacrifice and secondments.
The so-called Shared Principles and Values (SPV) event tackled a number of challenges and highlighted the need for employers to better communicate with staff, she said.
Ms McGinlay said: “Very few forums have this genuine mix of leaders from right across the industry – we have leaders from the operators, the big services companies, the small to medium sized supply chain companies and trade union leaders, government and the key trade associations.
“People talk about and know what some of the things are that needs to be done to help make changes in the industry. But things aren’t happening as fast as we would like them to – and why are some of these things proving difficult.
“One of the big things that came up was the need to engage more effectively with the workforce. People working on the ground have the ideas and know what is wrong and what could work better.”
The event was held in a week which revealed mixed news for the sector. An annual survey by the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and law firm Bond Dickinson revealed that North Sea firms planned to escalate job cuts, predicting a further 17% reduction in employment this year. This adds to 15% of jobs being scrapped in the sector last year.
Ms McGinlay said the rate of job losses was “heartbreaking” but that there was “no one easy solution” to the problems facing the industry.
She said the taskforce was behind another “Pace” event to be held for employees facing redundancy and prospective employers in Aberdeen at Robert Gordon University (RGU) next month.
“Of course we don’t want to see any job losses at all. But we have to be realistic that this is a really tough time for the industry,” she said.
“Unfortunately one of the results of that will be job losses.
“The work we are doing is seeking to minimise those job losses, to help companies with alternatives and importantly to support those individuals who are facing the result of those job losses.
“It is heartbreaking. We all know family and friends who are affected by this. There is no one easy solution to this.
“The taskforce is focused on what needs to happen in the industry over the longer term – transformational change.
“It is focusing on supporting individuals here and now. It is about trying to support companies to look at efficiencies because they need to get their costs down here and now.
“The taskforce is about trying to get that balance about what we need to do now and the longer term change that is needed. And that is not easy.”
She added: “All ideas are welcome.”