UKCS Workforce Dynamics 2018-2035: Shaping the skills of tomorrow

The oil and gas industry is still a hugely valuable asset to the UK, but there are challenges ahead. A significant number of fields will reach the end of their life resulting in increased decommissioning activity. Combined with a drive for a lower carbon economy and an increased use of technology and automation, the potential impact on the number and types of jobs required to support the industry over the next few decades, could be material.

In order to provide a clear sense of direction for the sector, the British Oil and Gas Authority in collaboration with Oil and Gas UK created a new vision for the industry - Vision 2035. The ambition is to produce an additional 3 billion barrels of oil and gas by 2035, and to double the UK’s share of the global oil and gas supply chain market from around 3.7 % to over 7 % by 2035. This will, if delivered successfully, generate 290 billion pounds of additional revenue for the UK.

OPITO and Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Oil and Gas Institute sought to assess the changing skills requirements for the industry over the next 20 years, in order to support the UK oil and gas sector. The analysis was based on interviews and information received from over 35 companies and organizations. The information collected comprised of representative data from both the operator and supply chain communities. The workforce data collected totaled about 34,000 roles, representing 50 % of the gross operated production in the UKCS and 20 % of the total UKCS direct and indirect workforce. A scenario planning approach was used to assess the possible 2035 UKCS workforce and skills requirements. The review and associated scenarios considered both the number and the nature of future jobs required to support the industry.

Looking forward to 2035 and assessing the impact of different scenarios, the analysis shows that:

  • The existing workforce in the oil and gas sector in the UK is likely to continue to decline from the 2017 baseline of 170,000
  • If the industry can achieve its goals around Vision 2035 and the broader energy diversification, the workforce requirements are estimated to be around 130,000 people by 2035. This represents and annual decline rate of around 1.5 % from the 170,000 baseline in 2017
  • Over 80,000 workers are likely to retire or leave the sector for other reasons by 2035
  • The sector will likely need to recruit over 40,000 people between 2018 and 2035, and includes around 10,000 new people in new areas such as data science, data analytics, robotics, material science, change management and remote operations
  • Closer collaboration is required between industry and training providers to up-skill and re-skill the workforce to enhance technology skills and capabilities across the industry, with a key focus on the skills required to deliver Vision 2035 and the broader energy diversification

Read the full report here

By Martine Farstad