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New strategy to create agile workforce for offshore energy industry

  • Joined-up approach to people and skills across the offshore energy industry
  • Helping people build cross-industry careers and transfer between sectors
  • Digital passport solution which is simple, visible, and fair for everyone

Today, global energy skills organisation OPITO, on behalf of the UK oil and gas sector and with the support of the Energy Skills Alliance, published an Integrated People and Skills Strategy highlighting the benefits of a just and managed energy transition for the energy workforce, industry, governments and communities.

Recognising the unique opportunity to bring together the offshore energy sectors, the strategy is designed not only to meet the commitments in the North Sea Transition Deal, but to create a joined-up approach to people and skills right across the offshore energy industry.

Alongside the strategy, the first of five action plans, Aligning Offshore Energy Standards, has also been published, to create an aligned training and standards framework across oil and gas, offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage – a top priority for the workforce, trade unions and companies alike.

To make it easier for offshore workers to build cross-industry careers and transfer between sectors, OPITO has brought together expert bodies from across the industry to promote the recognition of training and standards, remove duplication and identify gaps.

The ultimate goal is to replace today’s fragmented approach with a single digital passport solution which is simple, visible, and fair for everyone. It will help identify role-specific training requirements and provide a platform for workers to store and share their qualifications.

In developing the strategy, OPITO has engaged widely with organisations across the offshore energy sectors listening carefully to understand the risks and opportunities – for leaders and managers, and for the workforce, both offshore and onshore.

In the coming months, four further action plans will be published focused on Meeting Future Skills Demand, Developing Workforce Skills, Championing Diversity and Inclusion, and Improving Skills and Data Intelligence.

John McDonald, OPITO CEO and Energy Skills Alliance Chair, said:

“It’s very clear that our future energy system will look very different to what’s gone before and balancing decarbonisation targets with energy security is a huge opportunity. To succeed we must provide our people with the right skills, training and support to thrive in the net zero era.

“With the UK offshore energy jobs forecast to grow to more than 211,000 by 2030, it’s vital that we prepare and empower a diverse, agile and adaptable workforce, nurturing the skills we need in oil and gas, offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen.

“We must do everything possible to make sure nobody is left behind in this energy transition and that every worker can access the training and development they need to work flexibly across the offshore energy industry.

“Turning this strategy into reality requires clear leadership, collaboration and funding. Today, I’ve written to leaders from companies, trade unions and governments to invite them to demonstrate their commitment by working with us to deliver real and enduring change.”

Deirdre Michie, CEO, Offshore Energies UK, said:

“The UK’s transitioning offshore oil and gas sector remains key to the country’s economy, providing tens of thousands of jobs and supporting our security of energy supply, while underpinning and helping to drive forward the UK’s net-zero ambitions.

“The publication of the Integrated People and Skills Strategy shows our industry in action, providing clarity for our workforce as we move to a more diverse energy future which is still homegrown here in the UK, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank OPITO and John McDonald for leading this vital piece of work.

“As a key commitment of the North Sea Transition Deal agreed with government, we want to make sure people continue to reap the benefits of this international industry as it changes. From unrivalled opportunities to travel, to a positive culture and access to world class training and development, we have strong foundations to build on as we continue to create an integrated offshore energy sector.

“Today, we have also launched two key toolkits to support our members with their diversity and inclusion ambitions, as we know that D&I is at the heart of our sector’s ability to transition to cleaner technologies – we need to attract and retain a diversity of talent, skills and experience, as well as ensure inclusive and collaborative ways of working, as we make the transition to a lower carbon future.”

Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, said:

“This strategy sets out clearly how the oil and gas sector, and specifically its workforce, will be transformed by the energy transition as we strive to develop more secure and cleaner domestic energy production.

“Collaboration across the whole energy sector is going to be critical to facilitate the movement of workers across the energy sector. We are excited to see how the planned skills passport develops in time and are encouraged by the ambition and the progress made so far.”

Michael Matheson Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, said:

“The oil and gas sector plays an important role in our economy, and a bright future lies ahead for a revitalised North Sea in supporting a net zero energy system.

“Our oil and gas infrastructure and highly skilled workforce have long been at the forefront of energy innovation. That is why we are committed to a just transition that supports those currently employed in oil and gas to capitalise on the employment opportunities of net zero energy.

“The Integrated People and Skills Strategy will play a fundamental role, alongside the Scottish Government’s Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, in supporting the transition, and the Action Plan on Aligning Offshore Energy Standards will be critical for ensuring skills transferability across the offshore energy workforce.”

Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary of Unite, said:

“Unite warmly welcomes the Integrated People and Skills Strategy as a significant step forward for the offshore energy sector. It’s vital that as we progress towards a Just Transition and a net zero economy the offshore sector is prepared to capitalise on the opportunities of the present and future. The strategy helps workers to be properly trained and skilled in order to take advantage of these opportunities, and that they can effectively move between industries through the creation of a digital passport.”

“The UK offshore energy sector is forecast to create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade. However, we need to make this potential a reality, and we need to ensure that workers and communities are not left behind. The strategy announced by OPITO is a major step forward in this journey.”

Visit to download the Integrated People and Skills Strategy, Aligning Offshore Energy Standards Action Plan, industry case studies and a range of other resources.