The Skills Challenge

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Adam Barber
May 7, 2013
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The Skills Challenge

According to a recent recruitment company survey, the average annual wage in the North Sea oil industry will rise 15% this year. From £64,000 to £73,600.

That’s a significant uplift. Particularly given the wider costs associated with the rising price of exploration and extraction.

What’s more, and as the market pushes further into increasingly hostile operating environments, these costs aren’t going to fall away anytime soon.

However, the skills and recruitment challenge for the oil and gas markets doesn’t end there. Indeed, such is the sheer size and scale of the challenge that one industry body has become increasingly vocal about the struggle to fill the looming skills gap – as a generation of engineers and scientists hang up their kit and reach retirement age.

Put in numbers, this curious industry dynamic (rather endearingly called The Great Crew Change) is already creating our fossil fuelled cousins with quite the headache.

With almost 50% of its market now aged over 45 and with best estimates suggesting that they need to recruit and train 120,000 people in the next five to ten years, you begin to get a flavour of the problem.

Now at this point of course, the danger for the renewables market – and the offshore renewables market in particular – is to become rather smug.

For sure, the changing emphasis within the market will necessitate a shift towards more roles focused around operations and maintenance and a highly skilled, specialist supply chain.

And in the short to medium term too, there’s going to be a real focus placed on construction, manufacture and deployment, as developers and utilities focus on hitting targets and maximising commercial opportunity.

However, it would be naïve to think that our own industry skills challenge ends there.

Indeed, as the history of other offshore energy markets teaches us, when the cost of energy drops – and as future sector volatility urges caution – there’s a very real danger of underinvestment.

Especially when it comes to bringing new talent and personnel to the market and establishing robust, internal training and mentoring programmes that keep pulling these individuals up through the ranks.

And there’s one more thing. A simple truth.

Working far out in the North Sea is no walk in the park. The weather can change in an instant, it’s cold and it’s inhospitable. Even in some summer months.

Contrast this with emerging offshore wind economies in other parts of the world – where the weather windows may be a little more favourable – and factor in the lure of higher wage packet. For many, this becomes a compelling proposition.

Time then to de-risk the market – not just in terms of pure economics – but perhaps also, in ensuring that the anticipated skills shortage learns lessons from offshore oil and gas, and doesn’t follow suit.

According to a recent recruitment company survey, the average annual wage in the North Sea oil industry will rise 15% this year. From £64,000 to £73,600.

That’s a significant uplift. Particularly given the wider costs associated with the rising price of exploration and extraction.

What’s more, and as the market pushes further into increasingly hostile operating environments, these costs aren’t going to fall away anytime soon.

However, the skills and recruitment challenge for the oil and gas markets doesn’t end there. Indeed, such is the sheer size and scale of the challenge that one industry body has become increasingly vocal about the struggle to fill the looming skills gap – as a generation of engineers and scientists hang up their kit and reach retirement age.

Put in numbers, this curious industry dynamic (rather endearingly called The Great Crew Change) is already creating our fossil fuelled cousins with quite the headache.

With almost 50% of its market now aged over 45 and with best estimates suggesting that they need to recruit and train 120,000 people in the next five to ten years, you begin to get a flavour of the problem.

Now at this point of course, the danger for the renewables market – and the offshore renewables market in particular – is to become rather smug.

For sure, the changing emphasis within the market will necessitate a shift towards more roles focused around operations and maintenance and a highly skilled, specialist supply chain.

And in the short to medium term too, there’s going to be a real focus placed on construction, manufacture and deployment, as developers and utilities focus on hitting targets and maximising commercial opportunity.

However, it would be naïve to think that our own industry skills challenge ends there.

Indeed, as the history of other offshore energy markets teaches us, when the cost of energy drops – and as future sector volatility urges caution – there’s a very real danger of underinvestment.

Especially when it comes to bringing new talent and personnel to the market and establishing robust, internal training and mentoring programmes that keep pulling these individuals up through the ranks.

And there’s one more thing. A simple truth.

Working far out in the North Sea is no walk in the park. The weather can change in an instant, it’s cold and it’s inhospitable. Even in some summer months.

Contrast this with emerging offshore wind economies in other parts of the world – where the weather windows may be a little more favourable – and factor in the lure of higher wage packet. For many, this becomes a compelling proposition.

Time then to de-risk the market – not just in terms of pure economics – but perhaps also, in ensuring that the anticipated skills shortage learns lessons from offshore oil and gas, and doesn’t follow suit.

According to a recent recruitment company survey, the average annual wage in the North Sea oil industry will rise 15% this year. From £64,000 to £73,600.

That’s a significant uplift. Particularly given the wider costs associated with the rising price of exploration and extraction.

What’s more, and as the market pushes further into increasingly hostile operating environments, these costs aren’t going to fall away anytime soon.

However, the skills and recruitment challenge for the oil and gas markets doesn’t end there. Indeed, such is the sheer size and scale of the challenge that one industry body has become increasingly vocal about the struggle to fill the looming skills gap – as a generation of engineers and scientists hang up their kit and reach retirement age.

Put in numbers, this curious industry dynamic (rather endearingly called The Great Crew Change) is already creating our fossil fuelled cousins with quite the headache.

With almost 50% of its market now aged over 45 and with best estimates suggesting that they need to recruit and train 120,000 people in the next five to ten years, you begin to get a flavour of the problem.

Now at this point of course, the danger for the renewables market – and the offshore renewables market in particular – is to become rather smug.

For sure, the changing emphasis within the market will necessitate a shift towards more roles focused around operations and maintenance and a highly skilled, specialist supply chain.

And in the short to medium term too, there’s going to be a real focus placed on construction, manufacture and deployment, as developers and utilities focus on hitting targets and maximising commercial opportunity.

However, it would be naïve to think that our own industry skills challenge ends there.

Indeed, as the history of other offshore energy markets teaches us, when the cost of energy drops – and as future sector volatility urges caution – there’s a very real danger of underinvestment.

Especially when it comes to bringing new talent and personnel to the market and establishing robust, internal training and mentoring programmes that keep pulling these individuals up through the ranks.

And there’s one more thing. A simple truth.

Working far out in the North Sea is no walk in the park. The weather can change in an instant, it’s cold and it’s inhospitable. Even in some summer months.

Contrast this with emerging offshore wind economies in other parts of the world – where the weather windows may be a little more favourable – and factor in the lure of higher wage packet. For many, this becomes a compelling proposition.

Time then to de-risk the market – not just in terms of pure economics – but perhaps also, in ensuring that the anticipated skills shortage learns lessons from offshore oil and gas, and doesn’t follow suit.

According to a recent recruitment company survey, the average annual wage in the North Sea oil industry will rise 15% this year. From £64,000 to £73,600.

That’s a significant uplift. Particularly given the wider costs associated with the rising price of exploration and extraction.

What’s more, and as the market pushes further into increasingly hostile operating environments, these costs aren’t going to fall away anytime soon.

However, the skills and recruitment challenge for the oil and gas markets doesn’t end there. Indeed, such is the sheer size and scale of the challenge that one industry body has become increasingly vocal about the struggle to fill the looming skills gap – as a generation of engineers and scientists hang up their kit and reach retirement age.

Put in numbers, this curious industry dynamic (rather endearingly called The Great Crew Change) is already creating our fossil fuelled cousins with quite the headache.

With almost 50% of its market now aged over 45 and with best estimates suggesting that they need to recruit and train 120,000 people in the next five to ten years, you begin to get a flavour of the problem.

Now at this point of course, the danger for the renewables market – and the offshore renewables market in particular – is to become rather smug.

For sure, the changing emphasis within the market will necessitate a shift towards more roles focused around operations and maintenance and a highly skilled, specialist supply chain.

And in the short to medium term too, there’s going to be a real focus placed on construction, manufacture and deployment, as developers and utilities focus on hitting targets and maximising commercial opportunity.

However, it would be naïve to think that our own industry skills challenge ends there.

Indeed, as the history of other offshore energy markets teaches us, when the cost of energy drops – and as future sector volatility urges caution – there’s a very real danger of underinvestment.

Especially when it comes to bringing new talent and personnel to the market and establishing robust, internal training and mentoring programmes that keep pulling these individuals up through the ranks.

And there’s one more thing. A simple truth.

Working far out in the North Sea is no walk in the park. The weather can change in an instant, it’s cold and it’s inhospitable. Even in some summer months.

Contrast this with emerging offshore wind economies in other parts of the world – where the weather windows may be a little more favourable – and factor in the lure of higher wage packet. For many, this becomes a compelling proposition.

Time then to de-risk the market – not just in terms of pure economics – but perhaps also, in ensuring that the anticipated skills shortage learns lessons from offshore oil and gas, and doesn’t follow suit.

According to a recent recruitment company survey, the average annual wage in the North Sea oil industry will rise 15% this year. From £64,000 to £73,600.

That’s a significant uplift. Particularly given the wider costs associated with the rising price of exploration and extraction.

What’s more, and as the market pushes further into increasingly hostile operating environments, these costs aren’t going to fall away anytime soon.

However, the skills and recruitment challenge for the oil and gas markets doesn’t end there. Indeed, such is the sheer size and scale of the challenge that one industry body has become increasingly vocal about the struggle to fill the looming skills gap – as a generation of engineers and scientists hang up their kit and reach retirement age.

Put in numbers, this curious industry dynamic (rather endearingly called The Great Crew Change) is already creating our fossil fuelled cousins with quite the headache.

With almost 50% of its market now aged over 45 and with best estimates suggesting that they need to recruit and train 120,000 people in the next five to ten years, you begin to get a flavour of the problem.

Now at this point of course, the danger for the renewables market – and the offshore renewables market in particular – is to become rather smug.

For sure, the changing emphasis within the market will necessitate a shift towards more roles focused around operations and maintenance and a highly skilled, specialist supply chain.

And in the short to medium term too, there’s going to be a real focus placed on construction, manufacture and deployment, as developers and utilities focus on hitting targets and maximising commercial opportunity.

However, it would be naïve to think that our own industry skills challenge ends there.

Indeed, as the history of other offshore energy markets teaches us, when the cost of energy drops – and as future sector volatility urges caution – there’s a very real danger of underinvestment.

Especially when it comes to bringing new talent and personnel to the market and establishing robust, internal training and mentoring programmes that keep pulling these individuals up through the ranks.

And there’s one more thing. A simple truth.

Working far out in the North Sea is no walk in the park. The weather can change in an instant, it’s cold and it’s inhospitable. Even in some summer months.

Contrast this with emerging offshore wind economies in other parts of the world – where the weather windows may be a little more favourable – and factor in the lure of higher wage packet. For many, this becomes a compelling proposition.

Time then to de-risk the market – not just in terms of pure economics – but perhaps also, in ensuring that the anticipated skills shortage learns lessons from offshore oil and gas, and doesn’t follow suit.

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Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.