We live in interesting times in the energy industry. I’ve just returned from EEEGR’s flagship Southern North Sea 2023 conference, where Vision 2030 has been billed a ‘celebration of energy.’
Too often these days, coverage and debate around the energy sector is focused on criticism and conflict, anxiety and gloom. In all of that we can lose sight of the sheer vitality, innovation and, yes, importance of our industry.
We can forget, too, just how exciting our industry is as it prepares to meet the challenges of the 2030 and 2050 net zero targets.
While we cannot be complacent, we should allow ourselves to acknowledge that our industry is achieving a great deal. By 2030, our collective target is to generate 50GW of offshore wind, enough to power every home in the UK and more.
But, alongside developments in the emerging energies of CCUS and hydrogen, we’ll also still be producing oil and gas in increasingly sustainable ways.
We all have a role to play in meeting the ambitions of Vision 2030. Collaboration and cooperation across the industry are at the heart of any successful strategic outcomes.
For me, Vision 2030 means delivering on three key aspects: future safety; future skills; and greater sustainability.
We live and breathe safety and skills. It is what we do. This year, our global network of centres are expected to train close to half a million people.
Until recently that meant the offshore hydrocarbon industry but we are stepping up and playing our role in the energy transition.
For us, safety is the number one issue in any vision of the energy industry’s future. It is essential to ensure that our workforce has the right training and that this training has safety at its core. As an industry we never forget the Piper Alpha explosion of 1988 and we have learned the hard lessons.
Our health and safety record across high risk industries is now one of the best in the world. But we must never become complacent. Quite simply, we want to ensure that our 2030 energy workforce can continue to go to work and come home safely to their families.
Capitalising on skills
A skilled workforce is essential to realising Vision 2030. Luckily, we have a flying start in this regard, thanks to the huge amount of hard-earned competency already available in our offshore oil and gas supply chain and across on and offshore wind.
A great many people currently working in these sectors already have the skills and knowledge needed to transition. A key focus for OPITO is to ensure mutual recognition of these skills and to identify any duplication of training where it may exist and provide clarity by mapping out those pathways.
At the same time recognising that transferring from one part of the offshore energy sector to another is likely to involve some type of training journey.
As we ensure that our skills standards are compatible with Vision 2030, we’re reimagining delivery as well. Our global network of centres have shown that combining digital and blended learning works well. It is expected that the future workforce will learn using simulation models, augmented and virtual reality.
Serious about sustainability
The final piece of our Vision 2030 equation is sustainability. Sustainability means different things to different people.
Quite simply, we need to attract, retain and retrain enough people to our industry to meet the workforce demand from the new energy sectors.
Ensuring a sustainable pipeline of talent also requires us to present energy careers as an attractive proposition for our brightest and best young people. Meeting our Vision 2030 target means we’ll need the skills required in place as soon as possible.
Of course, we must transition to clean, sustainable energy as rapidly and efficiently and possible. But sustainability also means maintaining energy security. Love them or hate them, hydrocarbons will remain a crucial part of our energy mix in the run-up to hitting those targets of Vision 2030 and beyond.
The scale of the challenge is huge but so is the size of the prize. In its celebration of energy, the Vision 2030 Conference has reminded us of that.
Together, all of us are working closely to shape the energy industry of the future, with the skills and safety of our people front and centre.
The UK’s population is looking to the energy workforce to make life safe, secure and sustainable. The energy sector should be proud that our people are on the frontline in the battle against climate change.
So, let’s inspire and excite our current workforce and the young people who will become the next generation of energy workers.