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Time to get serious about skills

Workforce news
SHAKE-UP: Robust data is urgently required to estimate numbers of apprentices, transition training and capital investment

I have said in this column before that, when addressing the industry’s skills issues, if we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got. It is well and truly time for a step-change in how we approach the supply of people into our industry in the same way as we have taken a step-change in our approach to safety.

With almost weekly reports of skills shortages, industry bodies, individual companies, education and academia, training providers and now Government are all running around trying to find solutions.

The result is that the skills landscape has now become so fragmented that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing with the result that those who are trying to get into the industry are becoming confused.

And everyone wants to engage with industry! With so many voices out there, it is difficult to hear what is going on and make sure that anyone is actually listening.

It is time for a proper conversation to cut through all the noise and enter into intelligent dialogue. But to do that, we need to start the conversation with the real facts, with accurate labour market intelligence.

Opito is the industry’s skills body, funded by employers to ensure a sustainable pipeline of people into the industry.

We must be the single voice in skills for oil and gas, driving a streamlined and effective skills agenda that will deliver tangible results.

However, we also acknowledge that we need to up our game and that is why we are investing £1.2million this year and will continue to invest at that level in subsequent years to effect the step-change required.

Our first step is to gather robust data on the labour market. But with numerous surveys and predictions coming from trade bodies, analysts and recruitment companies, the figures fluctuate regularly.

Worryingly, they don’t tell us with any certainty or clarity what we really need to know, such as how many apprentices do we need each year, how much transition training is required and in which disciplines, where do we need capital investment to increase training capacity?

Once we have accurate labour market intelligence, that will correctly inform industry, Government, education and training providers, we can shape a streamlined skills strategy from which projects and initiatives will be identified, implemented and invested in and in which every stakeholder will have a clear role to play with no duplication or confusion.

This is the start of the biggest shake-up in oil and gas skills; so will you join us on this journey by signing up to Opito’s skills charter?

All we need is for industry to make a firm commitment to provide us with data every two years and for all stakeholders to acknowledge that Opito will lead on this and work with us to create one repository for all intelligence on skills.

With robust, relevant labour market intelligence at our fingertips we can start to make tangible in-roads into the creation of a sustainable workforce for the future.

David Doig is group CEO at Opito

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