New National Oil and Gas Skills Week hoped to change perceptions

Friday 27 June 2014

The oil and gas sector is experiencing a knowledge cliff, as the old guard reaches retirement age. There is renewed focus on attracting more skills among business, be they from limited company contractors or new recruits, but the talent pipeline may be in jeopardy as fewer people go into STEM subjects.

In a bid to raise awareness of opportunities in oil and gas and change perceptions about the sector, the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPTIO) has launched the National Oil and Gas Skills Week.

In new plans, this nationwide initiative will bring together a wide variety of people to see what they can get out of the oil and gas sector.

This will be done through showcasing achievements, running specialist workshops and career sessions, holding debates and interactive challenges.

Events will take place across the UK, including London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

OPITO UK managing director John McDonald said: "The UK oil and gas industry is a global success story, responsible for some of the most ground-breaking innovations and technologies the world has ever seen with the skills and expertise honed here in the North Sea exported around the globe.

"This is the first time, however, that the industry has ever looked to do something of this size and scale to showcase those achievements, to redress the misconception that working in oil and gas means working offshore and to highlight the fantastic career opportunities the sector offers a wide range of people."

Energy minister Fergus Ewing and business secretary Vince Cable have both welcomed the creation of National Oil and Gas Skills Week. Indeed, it may play an important role in ensuring the sector can attract the thousands of new recruits it will need over the next three years.

The event will also target female candidates through a Sticky Floors or Glass Ceiling workshop hosted by Edinburgh Napier University. The session will focus on the internal barriers that can hold women back. Meanwhile, a Mechanics in Practice session with the Institute of Physics will work to encourage girls into STEM subjects.

Other attempts to unlock latest talent will include a 'Mobilising the military' event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Held on November 12th by Subsea UK, the seminar is designed to attract ex-servicemen and women to oil and gas.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “The oil and gas industry offers rewarding careers to ambitious people all over the country.  As we rebalance our economy the government is working closely with British firms to bridge skills gaps, boost opportunities within supply chains and help meet the technological challenges of the future. National Oil and Gas Skills Week will complement this long term-partnership with the industry by helping recruit a new generation of world-class technicians, scientists and engineers."

OPITO is currently looking to get as many employers on board as possible too, ensuring the event is just as much a useful networking opportunity as a source of information.

Mr McDonald claimed SMEs, education bodies, science centres, recruiters and trade associations will all be welcomed.

Through increased collaboration, OPITO is confident that the event can take steps in changing the perceptions of the industry among potential candidates.

By Victoria McDonnell

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