Opinion

Sending the right message to the leaders of tomorrow

Jeremy Cresswell

DO WE deserve to attract the next generation? It’s a question I have been increasingly asking myself over the past weeks and months.

We talk a good game about the need to engage young people and make our industry attractive to them, but are we doing enough to get the leaders of the future on board or are other sectors simply outshining oil and gas in the way they approach it?

In our experience, young learners base their career choices on perceptions rather than facts.

When the image they hold is created by a third party – like the media who all too often focus on the negatives – we lose control over how our industry is portrayed.

By allowing our messages to be made by others we risk being overtaken in the attraction race.

It is therefore important that we look to redress this misconception by getting the right message to parents, teachers and guidance staff.

The industry needs to recruit 10,000 new people over the next five years. This year’s Offshore Europe will see Opito grasp the nettle with a series of initiatives which we hope will help bring our industry to life for school pupils, and college and university students alike.

While building on the successful Energise Your Future events of previous years, we will be adding a new element with an early look at an innovative new careers website, which will allow school, college and university students to engage with our industry better than ever before.

We want to keep this under wraps until the big day, so I’m not going to say too much about the site other than watch this space.

Beyond this we will be adding to the successful Your Journey event which started in 2009.

Bringing together school pupils with those already studying for a career in related subjects and working professionals, it gives pupils information about the vocational paths, roles and experiences available to them when making career choices.

As well as looking at the diversity of careers, the event at Aberdeen Football Club will help pupils see where their interests and school subjects fit in an industry context and hear first-hand about what inspired young professionals to join the industry, their experiences while studying and their route into oil and gas.

This networking session will be followed by an interactive tour of Offshore Europe at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre by around 250 S5 and S6 pupils, drawn from throughout Aberdeen city and shire.

Opito is also looking far beyond these events to engage with the next generation and widen the talent pool for the industry.

Finding a new way to inspire young people by using the same channels – like social media – they use to communicate to each other is key.

So, do we deserve to attract the next generation? Many individual companies excel in sending the right message and making themselves attractive to the workers of tomorrow.

If we are willing to engage with young people on their level rather than ours, if we change the way we talk about our industry and take a collective approach to attraction – who knows what we could achieve.

Mike Duncan is skills development director at Opito

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