IESTA (International Energy Skills & Training Alliance) has confirmed that as rising energy demand pushes global infrastructure, the specialist knowledge needed to recover vital resources is centered in the UK.
A study, produced by Roger Tym & Partners, has highlighted subsea oil and gas exploration and hazardous condition environments as the two principal issues upon which Scottish expertise can capitalize.
Global locations including development fields in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australasia – particularly Australia – are said to be the most likely to need support from learning providers with UK experience.
Already mature exploration in the harsh conditions of the UKCS North Sea, which includes deepwater work, means providers in the region are capable of helping to shorten the skills gap affecting those challenging global locations where new developments are almost continuously being exploited.
They are also expected to be capable of assisting other regions in extending the life of already-mature fields.
Neil Harkin, chairman of IESTA, said, "As the Scottish and UKCS oil and gas industry has developed over more than 40 years, its capabilities as not only a world-class center for exploration and production, and research and development, but as a training and education provider to the global industry, has grown alongside it.
"We have a reputation for technological and operational excellence, best practice and the highest standards in terms of health, safety, the environment and quality.
"This research confirms that opportunities for market growth are increasing, particularly as remote areas where harsh environment working continued to grow is vital to meeting rising global energy demand.
"Our partner organizations are at the leading edge of the industry's knowledge and capability, and are now in a position to be able to offer the expertise needed to make major developing sectors such as subsea succeed in the long-term."
IESTA is a not-for-profit organization formed by an alliance of Scottish universities, further education colleges and private sector training providers, set up to act as a one-stop-shop for the provision of integrated training.
At present, the global energy industry is estimated to be spending £1.2bn on high-value training, of which more than 20% is delivered by specialists in Scotland.
The report reveals the energy industry already delivers much of its training through distance learning via the internet and self-study, and is confirmed as vital to ensuring the increasingly new technology-focused industry continues to meet training requirements.
The three main training centers of Aberdeen, Houston and Stavanger dominate the oil and gas training market and are expected to continue to provide the lead as specialist disciplines such as subsea expand.
South American deep sea regions excluding the US-dominated Caribbean, South East Asia including Malaysia, Indonesia and India, Russia – where land-based work is prevalent – and Africa, all present growth opportunities for the Scottish sector.
The study also identifies the importance of long-term solutions to labor supply problems – influenced by skills shortages – and the general need for an increase in training methods directly tailored to the needs of the industry.
Technological skills needed in oil and gas can, in some cases, span all positions and the report reveals that technology considerations are a key focus of companies' competitive strategies.
The research by Roger Tym & Partners reveals that ongoing perceptions that skills in oil and gas are different from other industries– such as for instrumentation technicians – must be removed to ensure skills gaps are reduced.
Skills which cross job functions and disciplines are increasingly needed, while business management capability has become a crucial attribute for employers who want to keep up in the current economic climate.
Tony Marks, founding director of IESTA member 2020 Business Insight, said, "Training is fundamental to operational capability and success. The UKCS is the most mature oil and gas sector in the world, with Aberdeen and the rest of the UK's infrastructure renowned as a global center of excellence.
"Emerging markets such as in Africa, in terms of their global position, have always benefited from the skills offered by global contractors, with UK companies leading the way in delivery worldwide over the last 30 years.
"With greater opportunity for harsh environment exploration and work to lengthen the life of mature assets, so in turn does Scotland's capability to deliver the training which will be needed locally for these projects to succeed and ensure that global energy demand is met.
"Scotland already has a global reputation for excellence and growth opportunities clearly exist as the energy sector develops further. IESTA represents some of the best energy sector training providers anywhere in the world, and this report confirms its potential role as the outright market leader."
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