Addressing The Aberdeen Oil & Gas Skills Gap

The need to develop and nurture new talent within the oil and gas sector is paramount. With esteemed professionals approaching retirement, many organizations are facing the issue of replacing them with new skilled and experienced workers.

Coined the Great Crew Change, a recent article in Rigzone highlighted how BP plans to tackle the expanding skills gap in the market by focusing on graduates.

Lee Clark, oil and gas managing consultant at Eden Scott believes BP's strategy is essential for an oil and gas operator, however it might be a little late for Aberdeen-based businesses. In order to make a significant impact, operators should have started targeting the graduate market in Aberdeen five years ago. This would have ensured talent would be ready when the Great Crew Change progresses over the next few years.

BP's strategy will certainly work for the operator on a global scale, however Lee also believes that it's a different story in Aberdeen. As Europe's oil and gas capital, many of the world's key operators are confined to a small geographical area. With so many companies vying for talent in a small market, competing for the best graduates, there simply won't be enough people to fill all of the roles available.

To make up for the expanding short fall, many companies have taken to 'fast tracking' graduates. Pushing graduates into jobs that they're not ready for incurs a whole host of repercussions. This is especially risky in a highly competitive HSE environment.

Consultancy Work

North Sea experience is always a prerequisite for drilling programs. With talent pools drying up, many companies are offering consultant contracts to temporarily fill the gap.

Whilst there will always be a need for consultant work in oil and gas, when over used companies run the risk of not retaining the level of skills and knowledge.

The Solution

Is the Aberdeen oil and gas market destined to perpetually battle with losing established talent? There certainly isn't a quick solution to the problem. Whilst graduates and consultant workers will help in the interim, operators need to invest in talent and shift their current expectations in terms of experience.

Rather than North Sea experience, there are other EU professionals that are perfectly suited for the Aberdeen market. By reaching internationally, the Aberdeen oil and gas talent pool can easily be replenished.

Training and career structure are vital to develop new oil and gas professionals. Rather than fast tracking graduates, investing in their skills will help reduce the skills gap. Quick wins and inflated salaries are unsustainable for the market and long term plans should be set.

Lee Clark is a managing consultant within the Oil and Gas team at Eden Scott. Specializing in Drilling and Well Service recruitment solutions, Lee is based in Eden Scott's Aberdeen office.


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
WB | Apr. 26, 2013
I am live in NE England and have worked mon - fri in Aberdeen off and on the past 5 years. Like myself many skilled and experienced personnel dont wish to relocate, or even wish to commute every weekend. Aberdeen is a busy place and businesses seem to be outgrowing the city so maybe they should look at other areas of the UK. There are plenty of very outside of Aberdeen... AP, You have hit the nail on the head.

daniel dominick | Apr. 24, 2013
This is exactly what those at the head of the industry have set out to do. I have constantly tried to get my own son and friends of his who had the correct engineering qualifications from university into the industry for years and they were shown no interest whatsoever. Now we have the industry bringing people from out side the country. Its a disgrace.

Joel Gilbert | Apr. 24, 2013
There is not such a skill shortage but rather, experienced workers will not work for Peanuts and / or poor conditions. That is our choice so companies better wake up or use the GCC pool like they have been.

AP | Apr. 23, 2013
Many roles state 10 or 15 years oil and gas experience required. So how is anyone new to the industry going to get a foot in the door? I would have thought there should be a blend of graduates and those with working experience from other industries. The skill sets would be there, they just need to master the specifics of the industry. This would develop over time under the guidance of those experienced and soon to retire personnel. Instead you suggest to look overseas. How frustrating.

Jay Oatmon | Apr. 23, 2013
A big consideration for experienced consultants is the UK tax regime - why would I choose to work in Aberdeen (or anywhere in the UK) and give up nearly 40% of my salary in Tax (even if I pay tax in my own country)? I can go to Dubai or the Middle East, Far East, Africa etc and not pay any tax / or the company pays the tax for me? A 40% cut in salary for what?

Joe | Apr. 23, 2013
Its Aberdeen! Rain, Rain then more Rain. It would be a nicer day out on the rig North of the Shetlands than in Aberdeen! Oh and its just as expensive as London, but not quite as fun! I must add though I owe my start in the O&G sector to the Granite City. Thank You Aberdeen. I just didnt hang around to freeze and go broke at the same time.


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