Oil & Gas sector skills shortage but what exactly to do about it?

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The oil and gas sector needs no educating on the severe lack of skilled engineers coming into the industry, especially at a time of major international growth and development for exploration and production (E&P) firms.

While many companies are now successfully hitting targets on graduate and trainee recruitment, a major challenge facing the industry is the recruitment of those with five years or more relevant experience – personnel able to ‘hit the ground running’ and drive forward major projects quickly and competently.

OPITO, the UK oil and gas industry’s training body, recently reported that 44% of companies are expecting significant growth this year – so where will the staff come from to fill these gaps in engineering expertise and management of project development and delivery?

Skills shortages were the biggest challenge to the sector’s growth, the report found, and with around 15,000 more jobs potentially being filled in the next five years, the demand for engineers with the necessary skillsets remains greater than ever. Without it, it is feared wage inflation could run out of control.

In a separate survey carried out by a team at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, 110 companies were asked about their growth prospects. Nine out of 10 anticipated a boost in their international activity, with 67% expecting significant growth as a result of decommissioning work from the North Sea, and a further 63% forecasted growth due to renewable energy contracts.

This week Oil & Gas UK, the representative organisation for the offshore energy industry in the UK, highlighted similar concerns as it published the Business Confidence Index, covering the second quarter of this year. It showed a modest rise in confidence among operators, but indicated concerns from contractors over manpower.

David Ripley, Oil & Gas UK’s supply chain director, said: “The general confidence level is similar to the previous quarter with activity remaining high which is encouraging. Operators are busy with a number of major projects, including several sanctioned last year, and appear buoyed by the tax changes aiming to promote investment that were announced following constructive dialogue between the government and industry.

“Contractors continue to enjoy high activity levels fulfilling existing contract commitments in the UK as well as expanding the export of their services and products to clients around the globe. They have, however, become increasingly aware of the challenge of sourcing skilled personnel and equipment, for example drilling rigs, in a tight market, with operating and manpower costs rising and margins being squeezed.”

One new initiative that has recently been launched to assist employers struggling to recruit talent may provide some of the answers. A dedicated energy recruitment and workforce development show is to be co-located with the ‘Gastech’ international conference and exhibition this October in London, which will offer a unique opportunity to engineers wishing to learn about many global opportunities available, and of the employers out there who are hiring. More than just a recruitment fair, the ‘ignite!’ show is dedicated to helping employers from around the world source talent for specific projects, matching skillsets to specific regional projects which are under development.

Taking place during Gastech from 8-11 October, at the ExCeL in London, the ‘ignite!’ show has already proved a huge hit with employers and potential skilled candidates alike, with more than 30 major global operators, producers and engineering contractors sharing employment opportunities in their key global projects, and around 3,000 interested candidates expected to visit the stands and training seminars on offer.

Head of Content for Gastech, Gavin Sutcliffe, said: “It is clear that as companies focus more urgently on their engineering recruitment, the competition for securing the best talent available has never been greater.

“Many countries in emerging and developing regions are also seeking to attract talent with the skills to implement exploration, production and delivery of hydrocarbons projects. Additionally, an increase in the number of operators venturing into new frontiers in shale gas and deep water, matched with increasing demand for LNG and the huge potential reserves identified in the likes of Colombia, Angola and the Barents Sea, brings a need for people with specific experience, particularly in the fields of specialist engineering and in the subsea sector.

“According to OilCareers.com, one of the world’s largest oil and gas careers websites, demand for engineers in the energy sector peaked this year at an astonishing 89,688 open positions. At the start of this year OilCareers.com experienced a record-breaking one million visits in a month, a first since its launch 10 years ago.

“With such competition among employers for the talent out there, the suggestions are that more pressure will be placed on salaries as employees with relevant skills find themselves cherished and fought over by companies.”

To learn more about the ‘ignite!’ show please visit the website:  www.igniteyourcareer.co.uk

ENDS

Notes to editor:

Gastech Conference and Exhibition

UK, ExCeL London, 8-11 October 2012

www.gastech.co.uk

Media contacts

Rhea Hussey / Gavin Roberts on +44 1224 626288

rhea@fifthring.com / gavin@fifthring.com

About dmg :: events

dmg :: events is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc (DMGT, www.dmgt.co.uk), one of the largest media companies in the United Kingdom. dmg :: events was founded in 1989 and in 20 years has managed exhibitions, conferences and online platforms for many industries in up to 25 countries.

dmg’s energy events include Gastech, European Autumn Gas Conference, Global Petroleum Show, GO-Expo Gas and Oil Exposition, World Heavy Oil Congress, Oil Sands Tradeshow and Conference, International Pipeline Exhibition, Atlantic Canada Petroleum Show and the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (APIDEC).