ATTRACTING FRESH TALENT IS KEY TO SCOTLAND’S AMBITIOUS OIL & GAS STRATEGY
Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, revealed his oil and gas industry blueprint earlier this month, designed to ensure the country’s continued economic success. While welcomed industry-wide, it is ambitious and requires buy-in from across the sector in order to realise the goals set for 2020.
Young talent is integral to ensuring the energy sector’s future. There are real opportunities, both in Scotland, the UK, and globally. Oil and gas companies must do more to attract young people into the sector. Outside energy centres such as Aberdeen and the north east of England, school and university leavers are less aware of the opportunities within the oil and gas industry.
Although the focus is often on engineers, the industry provides a vast array of opportunities, from manual labour both offshore and onshore, to scientists working in labs and geoscientists modelling rock formations to locate the hydrocarbons. Thousands also work in clerical roles in accountancy, human resources, IT and other support functions.
The latest licensing round in the UK Continental Shelf brought the highest number of applications on record, which will hopefully see new fields brought online within the next few years or so. With production of those fields holding the potential to last for many years to come, there are excellent opportunities for school and university leavers starting to carve out a career in this vital industry.
The main problem is that the oil and gas industry is not always seen as attractive by the next generation, with a higher profile given to other energy sectors such as renewables and nuclear in the media. Many agree that enhancing the reputation of the industry is key to attracting new graduate recruits, along with those on professional programmes.
The mismatch between the skills required by the industry and the actual output from universities needs to be addressed urgently, with courses of greater relevance added to academic curriculums. If companies, schools and universities work together and invest more time raising awareness of the opportunities available, this will help to resolve future skills gaps.
With recognition at the highest level within government, and support from the likes of Scottish Enterprise, the challenge now is to maintain the 2012-2020 strategy, with a push to find the 12 to 20 somethings with the potential to come in and drive the industry forward.