Offshore Energies UK: Skills shortages threaten the UK’s energy transition and security

Offshore Energies UK November 30, 2022

(WO) — Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), the leading trade body for the UK’s offshore energy industry, has launched a report pinpointing key skills shortages that could put the transition to cleaner energies at risk.


OEUK’s annual Workforce Insight report also shows that retaining and recruiting the best people is critical to securing the country’s energy supply. The report will enable OEUK to work with industry and government to set out a new action plan for skills.

The report comes as the impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has tightened global supplies of oil and gas, which, combined with years of underinvestment, has pushed energy security to the fore of concerns in the UK and across the world. 

Prices continue to be very volatile and in the UK, domestic energy producers now face a 35% windfall tax on top of the existing rate of 40%, taking the headline rate to 75%, which also threatens investment in skills.

The report shows total employment in 2021 up by 22,000 and forecast to grow in 2022; direct (those specifically in the sector) and indirect (broader supply chain) employment is up almost 5,000 YoY.

It showed that the number of offshore workers has been reducing since 2010 with significant drops in 2020, largely due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic 

The report also found that an overall recovery of people offshore by 12% in March 2021 compared to March 2020. This is due to restrictions being reduced as there are more people being allowed to go on board. There has been a 5% reduction in the overall total workforce compared to 2020, which reflects a continuing recovery from the pandemic

Additionally, data showed that total offshore workforce of 36,946 including the core (spending 100 nights plus per-year offshore) and non-core workforce – with the majority of jobs supported onshore, with the age range between 30-44 making up 45% of the workforce.

However, there has been a reduction in the 60 and over workforce.

Katy Heidenreich, OEUK’s supply chain and people director, said: 

“The UK is entering a decade of delivery in homegrown energy projects. It could unlock a new generation of exciting jobs and careers in manufacturing heartlands and communities across the country.

“Our report shows that competition for talent and continued uncertainty on taxes could spell a premature end for the UK’s clean energy ambitions. 

“We need urgent action from governments to give confidence to the sector, so we can recruit and retain the talented needed.  

“As the national recovery from the pandemic takes shape and the energy security challenge intensifies, competition for skilled workers is increasing. The shortage is being made worse by competition from major national infrastructure projects.

“Over 200,000 people supported the UK’s offshore energy industry last year. Employment grew more in 2021 than predicted last year, and many of our members are telling us they are facing real skills shortages in delivering activity needed to ensure energy security for the UK.

"OEUK is currently working with our members to develop an accurate picture of the nature of these gaps, identify the reasons for them and recommend an action plan that we will share with government.”  

The publication also signposts two employer toolkits to help employers address diversity and inclusion, based on the output of the ground-breaking workforce survey last year, and reports a narrowing of the gender pay gap by three percentage points. 

It also points towards progress regarding promoting workforce transferability, with training groups working together to align standards for the 15 most common offshore roles, and the work underway to develop an offshore energy skills passport. 

“Our report shows that we should be proud of our UK energy production workforce. By supporting it we can harness our world-class expertise and unlock our industry’s full potential,” Heidenreich concluded.

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