Skills gap could be plugged by oil & gas contractors

Monday 21 July 2014

The 20th Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) Oil and Gas Survey has highlighted a potential skills shortage in the oil and gas sector which could be filled by appropriately qualified contractors.

What’s more, confidence among independent workers in the industry was found to be at a generally high level.

As well as skills shortages, the report, which was compiled by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, also discovered that competition for staff is having a major impact on activity in the North Sea.  It was found that these two areas were restricting growth in the industry.

Skilled independent professionals may be able to plug the gaps and benefit from the current state of affairs in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) area of operations.

What’s more, 37 per cent of firms were confident about their UKCS activity moving forward, with only 15 per cent revealing they felt less confident.

Some 30 per cent of respondents said that they felt better about their position than they did 12 months ago, with 14 per cent saying the opposite.

Uisdean Vass, partner at Bruce Dickinson, sponsor of the research, pointed out that the paper had highlighted many reasons that those within the sector should be optimistic, but that some concerns had also been raised.

Mr Vass also pointed out the current climate for evolution in the industry, referencing the impending Scottish referendum as a potential catalyst for change.

He also added that 2014 had been one of the most radical years that the UK oil and gas sector had ever seen.

Robin Collier, AGCC chief executive, added, “More stable trading expectations are returning after rapid growth in recent years. 30% of all firms were more confident about their UKCS activity than they were a year ago; however, this is down from levels seen over the last couple of years. The number of firms reporting working at or above optimum levels is also down from recent highs but more closely reflects the long-term trend of the results.

“It is positive to see that firms are continuing to invest in the UKCS and are looking to increase spend over the next two years (49 per cent looking to increase). Investment spending over the last 12 months has been mainly in ‘new markets’ (48 per cent) and ‘staff training’ (47 per cent). It is encouraging to see business investing in their workforce, something that may have previously come second to more operational budget headings with some firms.”

The positive contractor outlook recorded by the AGCC report further adds to that of the 2014 Oil & Gas UK Well Services Contractors Report, which was released in May.

According to this research, the oil and gas industry has seen a gross revenue of £2.06 billion this year, its highest since 2008.

What’s more, some 15,000 jobs have been created on the back of this, with more scope for expansion, particularly for contractors in the well services area of operations.

By Victoria McDonnell

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