GOING into 2012 we are at a complex and challenging crossroads.
Careers funding has taken a beating in recent months with swingeing cuts to Scotland’s education budgets bringing the potential for devastating effects.
The unemployment rate in Scotland has risen dramatically, from 7.5% cent to 8.5% in three months, and is now greater than the 8.3% rate recorded for the UK as a whole.
Almost half of those out of work are young people, with youth joblessness showing a dramatic rise.
UK Continental Shelf exploration activities meanwhile are set for a renaissance over the next five years, with investments of £22-40billion estimated, according to recent research.
This is centred on the construction of a number of new platforms in the North Sea and Atlantic Frontier, as well as asset modifications, sub-sea tie-backs, platform and subsea structures decommissioning.
It is estimated 15,000 jobs will be created, to deliver against the demands of planned projects.
Aside from offshore oil and gas operations and not to be overlooked is the developing offshore new and renewable energy space, also set to create some 70,000 jobs, across Scotland and the north-east of England.
If the oil and gas industry is to meets its skills challenge, we have to find a way to get the message out to the right people. Traditionally the sector has taken a slightly disparate approach when it comes to the career message.
That means that while there is wealth of information out there, it can be difficult for those wanting to find out more to determine where to go to find the right answer or indeed whether they are talking to the right people.
We are looking to attract people across all disciplines and age groups to meet both the short and long-term needs. This means getting oil and gas on the radar of young people when they are thinking about subject choices at school; of college and university students making their first steps into the working environment; and attracting experienced and skilled personnel from other industries.
The solution is to embed the message from the top. If we can inform the education authorities, the guidance teachers, the human resources professionals – make sure that these people have a clear understanding of where the information lies and how it fits in with their remit – we will be halfway towards winning the battle.
In order to do this we need a definitive focal point which draws together all the various strands of career information already out there. We have a wealth of knowledge in our industry, we just need to learn how to shout about it.
David Doig is the CEO of Opito.