Offshore activities in the oil and gas sector have experienced a significant drop in recent months as the downturn in drilling continues to reflect the difficult global economic conditions, the need for operators to control costs and increasingly restricted exploration budgets.
While the reins are being tightened in some areas, the industry is continuing to invest in its future through a strategic series of initiatives aimed at developing and sustaining a safe, skilled and effective workforce now and in the future.
Mike Duncan, skills and development director at OPITO – The Oil & Gas Academy, the industry’s focal point for skills, learning and workforce development, said: “While a common theme among employers has been a period of rationalisation and consolidation, employers are increasingly looking to see how they can add value to their business - this includes bringing in the right people of all disciplines and across all sectors and developing them. Our industry is now better placed to bring people in than it has ever been before thanks to major investment to open up entry routes and highlight the wide range of careers it offers. Indeed, the benefits it offers in terms of career and lifestyle options make it an attractive proposition where talent is recognised and hard work rewarded.”
UK tackles skills issue
The Academy this month showcased to the international energy industry how the UK is tackling the skills issue head on by unveiling a radical change to the closing day of Offshore Europe. Building on the highly successful ‘Go Explore’ campaign which saw television explorer Bear Grylls and former Blue Peter action man Gethin Jones raise awareness of the diverse range of careers in the industry, the flagship interactive lifestyle and careers event ‘Energise Your Future’ took place at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on September 11.
fig 1 : Gethin Jones helped youngsters ‘Energise their Future’ at a recent careers event in Norwich
Investing in future talent
Mr Duncan noted, “Much has been said about the lack of interest young people have in science and technology and how the numbers taking up these subjects have fallen over the years. This means that industries, like oil and gas, which depend on a constant feedstock of science, engineering and technology skills will experience difficulties if they can’t source the talented people they need. Re-envisioned by the Academy to provide added value to the industry, ‘Energise Your Future’ not only gives the next generation a better understanding of what they can aspire to be within the industry and the varied entry routes they can take depending on their personal interests and skills, but vitally, by focusing on students with an already established interest in pursuing these subjects beyond secondary school, it gives the industry direct contact with the rising talent of the next generation who may well be the oil and gas decision makers of tomorrow.”
fig 2: School pupils discover what life offshore involves.
A series of ‘Energise Your Future’ events are expected to take place in key oil and gas hubs around the UK in 2009/10, including Norwich on September 25.