North Sea employment to increase this year

Offshore workers arrive on their platform by helicopter
Offshore workers arrive on their platform by helicopter

The overall number of people employed in the North Sea Oil & Gas industry will increase this year according to a new workforce report from industry-body Oil & Gas UK.

The report forecasts that direct, indirect and induced employment will increase to 282,700, up from 280,000 in 2017.

Total employment supported by the industry fell by 14 percent in 2017- below previous estimates of 302,000 as the downturn continued to be felt by the supply chain.

Elaborating on the report, its author Dr Alix Thom, said: “Our report shows a stabilisation in the total employment supported by industry, returning to levels in line with the long-term trend before the peak in activity in 2014.”

“This has not been without a personal cost to many, and the revised figures for 2017 show the scale of the downturn is even more severe than previously understood.”

“The slight upturn forecast for 2018 suggests that the greatest period of rationalisation is behind us. Industry must maintain its focus on efficiency whilst securing badly needed investment in the basin to stimulate fresh activity. This sustainable approach is key to maintaining the workforce profile needed to deliver our long ambitions for the basin.”

“It is encouraging that the number of offshore workers under the age of 30 continues to grow. However, with women representing 23 percent of the total workforce and three percent of those travelling offshore, industry must retain its focus on improving diversity and inclusion across the sector.”

“As our report notes, advancements in technology will inevitably spell new ways of working, for example increased digitalisation could see a rise in offshore work being done remotely. It will be vital for the industry to understand the existing and future skill profiles in the workforce and proactively developed the talent required.”

“It sets the platform for recruiting and retaining the people needed to deliver Vision 2035- a new intake of highly skilled, adaptable and creative talent, with the diversity needed to maximise economic recovery and identify supply chain opportunities at home and abroad.”


Key finds of the report include:

  • The average age of offshore workers in 2017 was 42.2 compared with 42.7 in 2016.
  • The number of offshore workers under the age of 30 has increased by over 20 percent since 2016.
  • Women represented three percent of the offshore workforce, and 23 percent for the industry overall.
  • Almost 50,000 people travelled offshore in 2017, 6 percent down on the previous year.
  • 14 percent of those who travelled offshore in 2017 were from outside the UK, half of those coming from other EU countries.
  • The west of Shetland area has seen the largest growth in employment with workers in the area more than doubling since 2014 thanks to several major developments.
  • The continued pressure on drilling is reflected in the offshore population figures, which have seen a 35 percent decline in drilling roles since 2014.
    Overall, this report seems to herald good news for the North Sea job market. At Fircroft we work with all of the region’s major operators, providing a wide range of recruitment and workforce solutions. Want to find out how we can help your business thrive? Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.

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