Report: UK Oil, Gas Significantly Reliant on Immigrants

Report: UK Oil, Gas Significantly Reliant on Immigrants

A UK government-sponsored report into engineering skills has highlighted that strategically important sectors, including oil and gas extraction, are becoming increasingly reliant on immigrants to perform technical roles. The report calls on employers and professional bodies "to step up" to help the UK government inspire future engineering talent and address engineering skills shortages across several industries.

The Review of Engineering Skills – published Monday and authored by Professor John Perkins, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills – stated that the country currently relies on immigrants to fill one-in-five engineering roles in strategically important sectors, including oil and gas extraction. In June this year, Oil & Gas UK published its latest Offshore Demographics Report that showed that in 2012 the proportion of people working offshore on the UK Continental Shelf who were British was 82.8 percent (compared to 86.7 percent in 2006).

Professor Perkins has made a series of recommendations in his review, including:

  • The UK government should review funding arrangements for engineering degree courses to ensure that it is financial sustainable for higher education institutions to deliver high-quality engineering programs
  • HE institutions should work with Government and commercial banks to ensure their students are aware of Professional Career Development Loans
  • The engineering community should develop concerted engagement with university students, including work placements to raise the profile of engineering careers and ensure that students on every campus are aware of the full range of diverse opportunities with engineering employers, large and small
  • Engineering employers should explore the potential for developing cooperative cross-sector schemes to support postgraduate students

In response to the report's findings, the government announced a series of measures that included a $48 million (GBP 30 million) fund, which will become available in 2014, to help employers address engineering skills shortages in sectors with specific needs. There will also be seed funding to enable an initiative called Tomorrow's Engineers to accelerate the nationwide rollout of its employer engagement program aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers.

Commenting on the review, Professor Perkins said:

"I have highlighted the challenges currently faced by the engineering industry and the importance of all partners working together to attract future engineering talent in order to grow the UK economy. This review sets out government plans for the future and I would encourage employers, educators and professional bodies in the industry to take note and get involved."

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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MR U | Nov. 12, 2013
In the UK kids must decided what career path they will take when about 15 years old. If the UK would change their A-levels system to have more flexibility, perhaps more students would choose engineering. How many kids want to be an engineer at that age? I grew up in Texas, and I didnt choose my degree plan until I graduated high school, and not petroleum engineering until after I started university. There will always be a diverse group of employees in the oil and gas industry, no matter what country you are in. Get over it.

Mr Degree | Nov. 9, 2013
Doing a petroleum engineering degree was hard enough to complete only to realise the companies are more interested in experienced individuals. 30m will be more than enough to announce for all the petroleum engineering and other related oil and gas graduates to come together and take up the 80% British engineers presence to 100%. Is this practically impossible? Bringing someone from somewhere else means they spend their money somewhere else. So this is not such a difficult puzzle really, it is just a matter of where do you place your bets. I am sure there are more engineers in UK than really needed, but what are they doing? and also, there is a certain way of thinking that makes people engineers, does that way of thinking make it easy for them to go and find a job in their field? sounds strange, but just maybe.

rakeshkapila | Nov. 8, 2013
When you abuse you lose ! Engineering profession is littered with no respect for Engineers. They are the bottom of the pay scale in any profession, get worse treatment in the work place compared to big mouth financial yahoos. I remember applying for a C.Eng status in UK, I was interviewed twice by a set of clowns who wanted to test my electrical engineering knowledge and were and making a fool of them selves. Two of them claimed to have Phds with a completely un-related subjects and they kept went on proving how advanced and sophisticated the engineering skills and standards were in UK. Engineering will die its death if industry keeps promoting clowns to the top and putting down other young and upcoming engineers. Engineers are the arms and the legs of a industry, and policy makers must realize it and help the society and plan for the future intelligently. Instead of playing GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, We must play GOD SAVE THE INDUSTRY!

Piker52 | Nov. 8, 2013
Skills shortages? What skills shortages? I ve had young British men come up to me in Aberdeen looking for a break to get into OUR Oil and Gas Industry. Instead you have HR departments, employing overseas workers, all in the name of PC diversity. For example, one company is employing Nigerian science graduates on 26K and then Poles on 13k. Undercutting all the rates of pay. No wonder our young people havent got a chance!

Sy | Nov. 8, 2013
Excellent news but as stated too little too late. I am ex British forces with 23 years of hands on engineering, operational, project and quality assurance management experience however trying to get that foot in the door is very, very difficult. If all positions I have seen seemingly require 3-5 years experience in gas and oil then somewhere along the line the industry is going to run out of personnel. No doubt, the results of this will be even higher percentages being employed from outside of the UK and Europe.

Jon | Nov. 8, 2013
Why would young people consider a career in engineering, when they can better pay and more respect in other professions such as law, finance and medicine? I also think it is somewhat disingenuous of O&G employers to be screaming about a skills shortage, when they are in part responsible for it. I recall the early 1990s when a lot of O&G staff were retrenched, given that the oil price was sub $20. Now oil is $100+ there is suddenly a skills shortage. Finally, as an engineer why would I work in the UK on a relatively low highly taxed salary, when I can get a far better deal as an expat?

Simon | Nov. 6, 2013
No wonder-you reap what you sow. After decades of "ENGINEERING"being considered a dirty word,they now suddenly realise after they cannot rely any further on financial services to paste over ther cracks in the Uk economy,combined with the total annihilation of the UK manufacturing base.The chinese are turning out tens of thousands of engineering graduates EVERY YEAR! TOO LATE TO PLAY CATCH UP NOW EVEN IF THEY WANTED!-it would take years and a massive investment by the UK govt(no good for a country that is bankruppt in all but name. Leave the Engineering to experts such as the Germans and Chinese. It is a national disgrace for a country that gave industrialisation and engineering to the world TWO CENTURIES AGO! HARD LUCK and stick with your banks and banking to get you out of this one!

Mahendra Parmar | Nov. 5, 2013
I have a similar scenario as Mr Pink, I am working in the geotechnical engineering (Construction Industry) and em looking for a career change as a starter in the Oil Exploration Industry, but no positive feedback or consideration. I am basically a Geologist with Mineral Exploration & Exploitation as my major subject for my Masters Degree & even had worked for a year with a well renowned Oil Industry Services company, but no luck.

Mr Pink | Nov. 5, 2013
I work in Oil & Gas having come from Construction and recently Ive been applying for other jobs - to move on now I have gained good experience - and every time Im coming up against the same brick wall: Do you have an Engineering degree? No? Sorry not interested. Absolutely no consideration whatsoever of the experience and qualifications I do have. I know of ex-colleagues who have also came up against this so its not just me. Remove this arrogant short-sightedness and I guarantee a whole pool of talent will open up, people who are technically competent and eager to get involved but are currently on the periphery unable to break in passed the HR managers and ridiculous job specs.

Rebecca Ridley | Nov. 5, 2013
An interesting article - all initiatives to encourage young people into engineering, particularly at an early stage in their education are positive. Engineering has traditionally never been held in such high esteem as other professions, such as law or medicine, or been pushed as an aspirational career choice by primary and secondary educational establishments. I would also like to see a focus on encouraging school leavers into engineering apprenticeship programmes as well as through the graduate route, as these are equally valuable in helping to create the engineering talent of the future.

Neil McNaughton | Nov. 5, 2013
I think the report will be well received by the industry, but as is the case for any government initiate it is always too late in the day, The industry overall has been screaming long and hard about the demographics and shortage of skills. Let us see if the government initiate has teeth and can address the underlying educational shortfalls and problems overall or whether its going to be a case of wind under the bridge.


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