Oil capital 'lacks skilled workers'

Oil rigA shortage of skilled workers is threatening Aberdeen's future as a global energy capital, according to an accountants firm.

Around 120,000 new recruits are needed by 2022, the equivalent of the city's current workforce, to realise its potential as a worldwide energy hub, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said its analysis shows.
Investment, technology and a new generation willing to relocate to Aberdeen to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry is needed for the city to realise its potential, its report said.

Almost half the industry's workforce is over 45, meaning fresh talent is needed to guarantee a supply of skilled labour over the coming years, says the report, Northern Lights: One Year On. It also warns that the city shoulders most of the "jobs burden" for the UK oil and gas industry.

With over £31 billion of investment in existing and new oil and gas fields already in the pipeline, Aberdeen also needs to extend mature North Sea fields through developments and technical innovations, it says. The city should also "capitalise on opportunities" in areas such as west of Shetland to secure a long-term future for the industry in the north east.

PwC's report from a year ago proposed the creation of an Aberdeen Energy Academy to enhance collaboration between industry and academia. In the new report, it says such an academy must be realised in the next two to three years.

Mark Higginson, senior partner at PwC in Aberdeen, said: "The supply of appropriately skilled labour continues to be the greatest threat to Aberdeen's ability to become a global energy centre of excellence. Since we first outlined our vision of an Energy Academy 10 months ago, an initial feasibility study has taken place with the concept gaining broad support from industry, academics and the public sector."

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the oil and gas sector to Scotland's economy, and we are taking action to ensure that we have the skills to capitalise on the opportunities that the oil and gas industry presents for jobs and growth in Scotland.

"We are working closely with industry through the Oil and Gas Strategy, launched in May 2012, and the Energy Skills Action Group to address the skills demand that exists within the industry.

"Last month we launched a £2 million Energy Skills Challenge Fund, delivered through Skills Development Scotland, to create extra flexible training places for energy sector. We are committed to listening to the needs of industry and this fund has been developed in direct response to increasing demands from the energy sector for shorter, more flexible training opportunities."

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