The future of the UK’s energy sector is being fundamentally re-shaped through a combination of COVID-19, the energy transition, technology & innovation and changing industry dynamics. By building on the UK’s track record as a world class basin for oil, gas and offshore wind, there is significant scope to create a new, leading net zero energy basin and turn the UK into an offshore powerhouse.
It is estimated that over £170 billion will be invested on capital and decommissioning activities in the offshore energy (including oil & gas, offshore wind, CCUS and offshore hydrogen) in the North Sea between 2021 and 2030. With the overall number of jobs in the UKCS oil and gas industry projected to decline over time, the degree of transferability of jobs to adjacent energy sectors such as offshore wind, CCUS, hydrogen or other industrial sectors will be key to ensure the UKs retains its world class skills and capabilities.
With investment driving activity and activity driving people demand, future jobs will be closely correlated to the investment in the basin. With many of the skills and competencies required for the offshore energy sector to be highly interchangeable, there is a unique opportunity to create a new world class net zero energy workforce.
Robert Gordon University (RGU) in its recent UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability review highlight that the offshore energy workforce mix will change significantly in the next 10 years, with roles in decarbonised energies projected to increase from 20% to 65% of all jobs in the offshore energy sector.
The review also indicates that around 200,000 people are likely to be required in 2030 to support activities in the UK offshore energy sector, including offshore wind, hydrogen, CCUS activities and oil and gas. This compares to around 160,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the UK offshore energy sector in 2021.
The oil and gas workforce are well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities in the offshore renewables sector. Over 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workforce have medium to high skills transferability and the majority are well positioned to work in adjacent offshore energy sectors. Particularly soft skills and other non-technical skills are generally highly transferable.
Around 80% of the UK offshore energy jobs in 2030 are envisaged to be in nine key job families - Operations, Technicians, Engineering, Projects, Commercial/Business development/ Marketing, Procurement/ Supply chain management, Finance, HR and Health, Safety, Sustainability and Environment (HSSE), with the remaining 20% of the workforce employed in over 14 other job families.
It is key that UK and devolved governments work together with the offshore energy sector to ensure the managed transition of skills and experience in a way that protects and sustains key UK energy jobs. The prize of delivering the targets identified for offshore wind, oil and gas, hydrogen and CCUS by 2030 is hugely material. Success can deliver around 200,000 jobs by 2030. However, the combined impact of lower ambitions, reduced activity level and accelerated decline in the oil and gas industry could reduce the offshore energy workforce requirements to fewer than 140,000 jobs by 2030.
The higher education sector will have a key role to play in upskilling and reskilling the offshore energy workforce and it is encouraging to see that universities and colleges across the UK are developing new and exciting programmes to support the energy transition.
In support, RGU has set targets for 60% of its course portfolio to incorporate a net zero narrative by 2023, rising to 100% by 2025 and the university is evolving its energy-related course offering to complement and augment the climate emergency and net zero narrative.
Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE.