Report: What Aging Oil & Gas Offshore Workforce?

Research carried out by Oil & Gas UK has exploded the commonly held belief that the UK oil and gas industry is suffering from a rapidly aging, largely male offshore workforce as a result of fewer young people, especially women, taking up jobs within the sector.

Using data supplied by the Vantage POB (personnel on board) system, an Internet-based system used by the industry to keep track of people offshore, the research reveals that the average offshore worker is 41 years old, which is the expected average age for any workforce aged between 20 and 60 years.

In addition, the number of women in the industry is increasing, with over 1,800 traveling offshore in 2006. The majority are employed in the catering sector, but there are significant numbers also entering technical roles.

"Today's high activity in the UK continental shelf (UKCS) has resulted in oft-repeated concerns about the demographics of the current workforce, and the sustainability of the skills base," said Jessica Burton, a business analyst at Oil & Gas UK and author of the report. "The research gives a much more optimistic picture for industry demographics than common perception holds. For example, the age profile for female workers was weighted towards the younger age brackets, with an average age of 34.1 years, indicating an increase in the recruitment of young female graduates and other professionals into the industry."

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the industry's efforts to attract new recruits are paying off. For example, there are 10 applicants for every place on the industry's Technician Training Scheme, while one company graduate scheme attracted 2,000 applicants for 20 places and over 7,000 people recently attended industry recruitment fairs in Newcastle and Glasgow.

However, the report highlights some areas of concern that need to be addressed. These include under-representation in the under-24 year and 30-34 year age groups and older profiles showing up in certain occupations, in particular rigging and crane operations. This emphasizes a continued need to focus recruitment in these areas to avoid potential shortages in the near future, said Oil & Gas UK.

The data recorded 117 nationalities working offshore, with workers from the UK accounting for 85.1% of all personnel. This demonstrates that the UK offshore industry is a major contributor to the UK job market, as well as an attractive global destination.

Oil & Gas UK will be reviewing the Vantage POB data on a regular basis to allow the monitoring of the age profile of the offshore workforce and permit the continued identification of potential areas of concern.

A copy of the Oil & Gas UK Workforce Demographics Report may be downloaded from

Oil & Gas UK is the leading representative organization for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its 60 members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those who form any part of the industry's supply chain.

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