Workforce stabilisation sets foundation for oil and gas industry’s bright future

Total employment supported by the UK offshore oil and gas sector is now back in line with industry’s long-term trend, according to new research published by Oil and Gas UK (OGUK).

2019 Workforce Report, which provides insight into the employment landscape across the UK oil and gas sector, anticipates that the sector will support around 269,000 jobs in the UK this year, a rise of 10,000 from 2018.

Among the insights, the report notes that due to increased production in the North Sea basin coupled with more agile and efficient working practices, the overall figure of barrels-per-worker has risen by 5% since last year and is now 57% higher than in 2014.

The research also highlights the industry’s rapidly changing skills requirements. Digitalisation, internationalisation and the transition to a net-zero emissions future will require significant re-skilling for existing workers and the recruitment of up to 10,000 new roles in these areas, some of which don’t exist yet. The report notes that these new roles could be a positive influence on gender balance in the industry as these are relatively new disciplines with a higher proportion of women than is found in traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas.

Commenting on the report, Dr Alix Thom, Workforce Engagement and Skills Manager OGUK says: ‘These employment figures indicate a welcome stabilisation of workforce numbers and is positive news for an industry which has a relentless focus on improving the sustainability and safety of the basin. While parts of the supply chain continue to be under real pressure with tight margins, overall our report findings indicate that the health of our industry continues to improve.’

‘Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce will be critical to ensuring we are fit to meet the challenges of the future and to realise the opportunities that will come with new technology and innovation.’

The report also shows:

  • Total employment for the UK oil and gas industry in 2018 was 259,900.
  • Forecasts for 2019 anticipate a rise of around 10,000 jobs to 269,100.
  • The industry supports jobs throughout the UK, with 56% of total industry employment located in England, 39% in Scotland, 4% in Wales and 1% in Northern Ireland.
  • Every £1mn spent by the UK oil and gas industry creates eight supply chain jobs and induces another eight jobs across the UK economy.
  • A rise in drilling activity prompted an 18% increase in drilling personnel offshore.
  • Around 7% of those travelling offshore came from the EU.
  • The central North Sea remains the area of greatest activity, with 49% of total offshore employment.
  • Capital investment is expected to stabilise in 2019 at around £5–5.5bn.
  • Women represented just over 3% of the offshore workforce in 2018.
  • The industry’s average gender pay gap fell slightly to 24.3%. Although this is in line with other STEM industries it remains above the 2018 national average of 17.9%.

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