‘Significant’ number of women opting out of energy education, new figures show

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A “significant” percentage of women are opting out of the offshore energy sector in Aberdeen, despite an industry push to boost numbers.

Figures provided by Aberdeen University show that the oil downturn has negatively impacted the number of young women entering oil and gas-based further education.

The numbers appear to highlight an overall choice by young people to stay away from the sector post-downturn, with the figures for women even more alarming.

As university numbers have dropped across the board, the amount of women undertaking full-time energy courses has also more than halved since 2014-15.

Young women are also avoiding energy apprenticeship schemes, according to a vocational training boss in the north-east.

Jim Booth, training executive for Tullos Training in Aberdeen, said: “With this downturn it’s the first time the city has really experienced such a hit in workforce numbers and I think some young women are quite scared to commit if it means looking at the sector four years down the line.

He added: “The speed of recovery also hasn’t helped. We really need to see more young women interested in apprenticeships and the engineering sector as a whole.”

But while industry experts agree that the last five years have been difficult, some claim they are witnessing renewed interest in the sector from younger students.

Professor Ana Ivanovic from Aberdeen University’s School of Engineering confirmed an overall dip in course uptake, which she claims could be a result of the “associated uncertainties the sector has experienced”.

But she added that the university has noticed an increase in women studying energy subjects part-time or “topping-up” their skill set.

Alix Thom, workforce engagement and skills manager at Oil and Gas UK, said:“While this doesn’t reflect the wide range of routes into the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry and the enormous breadth of opportunities, it underlines the importance of our continued work to champion the sector as an attractive career destination to people of all backgrounds.”

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