What Can We Do About The Labour Shortage In The Offshore Drilling Sector?

February 9, 2024

What Can We Do About The Labour Shortage In The Offshore Drilling Sector?

You may have seen a number of news articles over the last few months about a labour and skills shortage within offshore drilling and oil and gas. The offshore drilling industry is facing challenges at the moment, and they appear to be having a knock-on effect.

It goes without saying that a labour shortage is not ideal! However, it is not just a lack of headcount working. There is also a growing anxiety around the loss of skills and experience as more people retire or retrain.

Despite this challenge, the offshore oil and gas market continues to grow and there are new opportunities in offshore oil staffing emerging. So, what exactly is the situation, and what can be done about it?

Explaining The Labour Shortage

As with many sectors, Covid-19 had a profound impact on staffing within offshore oil drilling. Furlough, redundancies and huge delays resulted in less staff and lower hiring rates. This after the slump of 2014 after crude oil’s price collapse meant the sector was in a worrying place.

However, promising figures from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) indicate that offshore staffing levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels and the industry continues to grow from strength to strength. This is undeniably a great sign. Nevertheless, the sector is still struggling when it comes to offshore recruitment. Pre-pandemic estimates for 2022 suggested that offshore drilling still expected to have more workers than it currently does. Evidently, the pandemic is still having an impact when it comes to drilling recruitment.

Furthermore, staff’s disproportionate ages are a concern. Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB)’s 2021 Census states that over half (54%) of the workforce are aged between 30 and 49, and more than a third (35%) are over 50. This can become a developing problem when workers begin to retire.

Indeed, workers taking early retirement during the pandemic have already contributed significantly. After all, there is also a developing skills shortage. Experienced workers leaving the industry means their personal knowledge is lost, but also they cannot pass that along to more inexperienced workers.

What Can We Do?

Part of the reason offshore drilling is struggling with gaining and retaining workers is the sector’s reputation. Global Energy Talent Index’s 5th annual report indicates that 78% of the oil and gas workforce feel more insecure about their job than they did a year ago. As the focus on climate change and renewable energy increases, it is obvious why. There is a growing feeling that offshore drilling could be on the decline, and this has an impact on offshore recruitment.

However, Alix Thom of OEUK says that while “workers are generally concerned the plug will be pulled in oil and gas [...] it’s certainly not as black and white as that”. OEUK’s 2022 Economic Report suggests that the UK still contains 15 billion barrels of oil in its continental shelf. Clearly, there is still a lot of work left within offshore drilling. The sector now has a responsibility to clarify this to its potential workforce. Stressing its stability in outreach to groups like graduates and apprentices is vital for successful drilling recruitment.

Offshore drilling is also becoming part of a growing movement to merge the whole energy industry into one force. Oil and gas is increasingly focusing on building cooperation and bridges between different sectors of the industry. A link between all sectors will also strengthen job security and ease of movement through ranks.

Therefore, it is clear that an offshore career still has so much potential for growth and development. As technology develops, so do the roles and opportunities available within drilling recruitment. Global Resources Network can help you find the ideal offshore drilling job for you. Send us an email today to find out more.

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