A survey of the employee pay structure in the subsea service sector has found there are widening gaps between scales of pay that may be fuelling the competition for people in the sector.
The study was commissioned by Subsea UK in an effort to give increased transparency to salary levels across the spectrum of job roles.
"The high level of activity in the industry is placing a significant demand on an already tight labour market. Whilst increases in the salary levels of staff are to be anticipated in such a market, it is important that these are not allowed to become excessive as this could harm our international competitiveness," says Subsea UK chief executive, David Pridden.
More than 800 subsea engineers from across 26 different contractors took part in the study which was carried out by market research firm Ashbrook Research & Consultancy.
Average salaries across the UK without bonus and other benefits were found as follows:
Graduate: £22,000 - £25,800
Engineer: £29,000 - £36,000
Project engineer: £33,700 - £45,200
Senior project engineer: £37,000 - £52,900
Technical manager: £50,600 - £74,000
Bonus payments ranged from 5% of salary for graduates to 14% of salary for technical managers.
In terms of recruitment, the study anticipated demand across all categories of employee over the next three years with current difficulties set to increase. For the future, although recruiting graduates is expected to become more difficult, there is still less perceived difficulty than in all other categories. Experienced engineers are where most of the recruitment challenges lie.
Pridden adds: "For the first time the industry will have a clearer picture of the salary scales and we hope that companies in the subsea service sector will use it to control the escalating costs and perhaps even curb some of the poaching that is beginning to harm the smaller companies down the supply chain."
"We are planning a second study which will focus on the levels of pay within the operating companies.
The UK subsea sector employs 40,000 people and generates over £3 billion to the UK economy. With a growth rate of over 25% in the last year, the sector is set for further global growth but a shortage of people is one of the main threats to the UK's leading position.