Offshore Workers Are Getting Younger - Report

The average age of offshore workers is at its lowest and there are more people traveling offshore to work than at any other time in the last four years. 

These are the key findings of Oil & Gas UK's latest offshore workforce demographics report for 2009, which shows the average age of offshore workers is 40.4 years old – the lowest since the industry body began compiling this data in 2006. 

With staff aged between 18 and 65, the average age of 40.4 is a healthy one and dispels any notion of an aging offshore workforce operating in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). 

The vitality of the UK oil and gas industry is also demonstrated, with 51,116 individuals traveling offshore to work; a 1% rise on the previous year and the highest recorded since 2006. Indeed, the total number of 'core' workers (those who spend more than 100 nights offshore) has increased dramatically, up by 13.4% on the previous year. 

Elsewhere, there is evidence of much younger workers taking up positions in key areas. For example, looking at specific offshore occupation types, there have been increases in the numbers of 18 to 23 year olds and 24 to 29 year olds working in areas such as deck crew, drilling, electrical, management, production, rigging and scaffolding. 

Although there has been an increase in the number of women traveling to work offshore from the previous year, it is, however, a marginal one. The report finds that 1,898 women are employed offshore, with 30% employed in catering. The average age for women traveling offshore is 35.6 years. 

In terms of nationality, 84.9% of those traveling offshore were workers native to the UK, which underlines the importance of the offshore industry in providing jobs in this country. 

Oil & Gas UK's health, safety and employment issues director, Robert Paterson, said, "Oil & Gas UK's latest offshore workforce demographics report highlights some very positive findings indeed. 

"It's encouraging to see evidence of not only the youngest recorded average age of offshore workers but more and more young people under the age of 30 taking up important skilled jobs in key areas of the offshore industry. 

"I think we can now put the myth to bed that the North Sea and wider UKCS has an aging workforce. 

"Not only that, but it's exciting to see more people working offshore than in previous years – something which clearly shows that the UK oil and gas industry is buoyant. The North Sea may be a 'mature basin', but anyone who thinks that operations are winding up and coming to an end is mistaken. 

"That said, we still must continue to attract the next generation of young, skilled and talented individuals into working in this industry. This will be a significant challenge when there are other career opportunities in large-scale construction projects such as wind farms and the London Olympics. 

"Oil & Gas UK will continue to monitor these trends and feed into ongoing efforts being made by OPITO – The Oil and Gas Academy, and the industry at large, to retain and develop skilled workers. 

"The overall positive trends highlighted here illustrate the good work being done by the industry to attract and retain young, highly skilled workers and demonstrate the excellent career prospects that it has to offer."

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