Associate feature: Striving for balance in the energy sector
OPITO is the global, not-for-profit, skills body for the energy industry. It develops and delivers products, services and initiatives, identified as critical by its member boards and industry representatives, in order to ensure a safe and skilled workforce. It also establishes programmes to attract, develop and retain the workforce of the future.
I have been involved in the oil and gas sector for more than 12 years and have seen it change significantly over that period. We have just celebrated Women in Engineering Day, during which we showcased our female apprentices. We work with organisations throughout the UK – including Glasgow Science Centre, Aberdeen Science Centre and careers guidance services – to highlight the exciting and diverse opportunities in the energy sector. OPITO is about promoting the exciting journey which an energy career can offer to females. Indeed, women make up 60 per cent of our own internal workforce across our global offices. But let’s not pretend that we are where we want to be: females are still vastly under-represented across the wider industry.
Energy continues to have a bigger gender employment gap than other sectors: around 25 per cent of the current workforce in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), is female. A study commissioned by OPITO (UKCS Workforce Dynamics: The Skills Landscape 2019-2025) showed that female representation in the workforce is likely to shift from 25 per cent in 2019 to approximately 30 per cent by 2025. This was based on the assumption that there will be an equal intake of new recruits from both sexes between 2019 and 2025.
Alongside our passionate determination to ensure that the industry reaps the very real benefits of increased gender diversity, OPITO has other, complementary objectives: to drive the skills agenda; to promote STEM; and to ensure that jobs in the oil and gas sector are transferable to the wider energy sector.
This work was ongoing prior to COVID-19 and is now more important than ever. We will see jobs change and adapt: there will be much more flexible and remote working and greater investment in new energy technologies. The trend towards digital working has accelerated in the last three months. The OPITO workforce report also showed that although traditional disciplines such as subsurface, operations and projects will continue to be important, there will also be significant new demand for experts in areas such as low carbon energy, data science, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, material science, change management, remote operations and cyber security.
The UK is uniquely positioned to exploit its position as a global training and development hub and OPITO, as a global skills body, is working with industry and agencies to increase the visibility of future skills demand. Work is underway with universities, colleges and training providers to more closely align their curricula, training offers and methods of delivery.
Increased female representation is vital if we are to emerge successfully from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to ensure that we have a broad and representative energy workforce which can deliver the UK energy needs.
We will do the above while showcasing the women of our industry. We will help them to mentor the next generation, to drive forward the energy discussion and to broaden the range of available roles.
OPITO will continue to work with our Scottish, UK and international partners to identify the skills of the future, to ensure we engage with females, and to ensure that we work toward parity in the sector.
Jill Glennie is Director of External Affairs at OPITO - Rebecca.Groundwater@opito.com
This piece was sponsored by OPITO