Route to success is built on solid skill sets

Opito chief executive John McDonald
Opinion by John McDonaldCEO OPITO

Advances in technology, internationalisation and the transition to a lower carbon future indicates that many positions within the sector will change or evolve.

The skills strategy required to equip personnel for these changes is now a high priority for the industry.

Outlined in the UKCS Workforce Dynamics: The Skills Landscape 2019 – 2025 report launched last week, a large majority of today’s oil and gas workforce will require up-skilling and re-skilling.

There will also be approximately 4,500 new people joining the industry in roles that don’t exist today.

This follow-up study to OPITO’s UKCS Workforce Dynamics Review: Shaping the Skills for Tomorrow in 2018, addresses the need to design and adapt our talent development systems for both the existing workforce and new recruits.

It also provides a framework and action route map for employers, governments, agencies, education institutions and training providers to help effectively plan the skills and capabilities in the sector.

The message is clear, we must start laying the foundations now to allow us to build the workforce required to match these advances in our sector.

OPITO’s action plan centres on four strategic components – Retain, Retrain, Recruit and Renew – ie, equipping and up-skilling people already working in the industry to adjust to the rapidly changing environment, and attracting people with different skills sets and new ways of working. This combination will take precedence for the sector going forward.

The findings also show a significant up-skilling requirement for the existing workforce in the areas of entrepreneurship, internationalisation and digital skills.

There will be growing demand for expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, material science, remote operations and cyber security.

A smaller and more targeted part of the workforce is expected to become super users or domain experts who are an authority in a particular area or topic, and who can assist a wider team with general support.

At the same time, a number of the more traditional roles are changing, requiring personnel to up-skill or re-skill. A key focus to address this is likely to accelerate over time creating a more flexible, multi-skilled and technologically-aware workforce.

In building this report, Robert Gordon University’s Oil and Gas Institute surveyed around 1,000 people across 140 organisations. Their responses highlighted that learning preferences have also changed; short but formally structured “nuggets” of learning increasingly delivered through simulation are favoured over the more traditional methods of classroom-based training.

OPITO is already working with various stakeholders to deliver the route map of actions. This will see people with the right skills working in the sector and supporting the overarching Vision 2035 plan, which aims to secure another generation of production and double exports in the UKCS.

OPITO will facilitate the coordination of this on behalf of the industry and bring partners together to deliver on the actions. There are exciting and prosperous times ahead if we approach this with aligned thinking and resources.