The Aberdeen Skills Shortage

Posted on July 20, 2012 by


It always a popular discussion topic here in Aberdeen – whether it’s a story in the paper or a feature in a business magazine – the area’s Oil & Gas skills shortage is an issue that everyone has a view on.

The circumstances are by no means a recent trend; indeed the diminishing recruitment pool is a regularly reported ‘constraint against activity’ in the bi-annual AGCC Oil & Gas surveys.

The Recruitment Pool Needs to be Re-Stocked

The skill shortage has been a cause for concern for a number of years now. In a country with an aging population, it’s no surprise that many of those who posses the greatest wealth of talent and experience in the industry are reaching retirement age. With crucial skills rapidly being lost, there is an urgency to try to replace those who are leaving with new talent…but those tasked with the job will know exactly how difficult a task this has become.

The situation is by no means unexpected and those outside the area might question why more has not been done to resolve the problem. However the lack of new talent is caused by a range of factors, making it difficult to correct unless all issues are targeted at once.

A key cause of the shortage has been a prolonged lack of investment in staff training and development. In fact it was only at the tail end of last year that we too featured a blog on the issue (Are We an Area of Muppets?)

If you’ve not read the article, we discussed how too many companies would look for ‘finished article’ employees as opposed to nurturing new talent. The trouble is, these ‘off the shelf’ employees rarely exist – and if you do find one, it’s likely that you’ve poached them from another company in the market.

This brings us on to another issue – the Aberdeen employment ‘merry-go-round’. In the Oil & Gas industry employees are frequently poached from one company to another, each time leaving a skills gap that is too frequently filled by the company replacing the employee by poaching themselves – creating a vicious cycle. With companies and recruiters continuing to cast their lines into the same pool, all this does is drive employment costs higher. And the already dwindling pool will continue to shrink unless new people with skills are added.

New skills come from two main channels; developing a younger generation through graduate development schemes, apprenticeships/placement programmes and seeking those with transferable skills (training those who are currently employed within a different industry but have an existing skill set which can be altered to suit).

More recently, Aberdeen has seen an improvement in the industry’s efforts to develop talent; many companies have launched (or re-launched) Graduate and Trainee Programmes, as well as the launch of new ‘skills academies’. In time, these creative initiatives will help ensure that skills in the industry will become sustainable again, protecting the area against future skills shortages.

In the meantime, in an effort to further increase the skills pool, UP’s associate event company cushydoos are seeking to help the industry bring in transferable skills from out-with the area…with the welcome return of the Opportunities in Oil & Gas Recruitment events!

Working in collaboration with the industry, oil operators, contractors and service companies, cushydoos bring together key organisations at one day events in prime locations throughout the UK, attracting skilled individuals to attend the events and meet with the recruiting organisations face to face.

In previous years, cushydoos have run successful events in Glasgow (the initial event attracting around 2,000 visitors), Newcastle (a staggering attendance of 5,000 potential candidates) and Manchester (over 2500 high quality candidates)

After a 5 year break, due to market demand the events will run once again, with the first event set to take Glasgow by storm again in September this year, followed by a second event in Newcastle in March 2013.

Exhibitor places at the event are limited, so for more information on the event and to find out more about taking part, please contact Karen Reid on 01224 651 819 or by email.