Oil is going to be vital for fuelling our cars and heating our homes for a long time to come. Fortunately, the UK Continental Shelf contains enough of it to fill 24 billion barrels.
However, the challenge now is to develop the technologies to ensure it is economically viable to extract these reserves, which are less accessible than those of past decades. Such development will create jobs, especially the highly skilled positions that can only be filled by quality engineering graduates. These young recruits are needed to replace the ranks of petroleum engineers who are set to retire in the next five years. In addition, other graduates will needed to apply their talents to prolonging the life of the UK’s ageing oil and gas processing infrastructure and to research.
The inaugural National Oil & Gas Skills Week kicks off on 11th November, aimed at showing what this diverse sector has to offer. Specialist technical or engineering positions, as well as onshore support roles in accounting, marketing, business development and other fields, mean plenty of career possibilities for students or anyone seeking a new direction.
Among career-changers, ex-services personnel impress employers with their technical background and safety-conscious approach. Last month 500 service leavers attended an Employment Fair in Aberdeen to network and find out more about life offshore. Meanwhile, the MoD (Ministry of Defence) has teamed up with training providers to deliver a course that could see some trainees ready to go onto rigs within eight weeks.
Not everyone will join oil companies. In the USA, the construction of pipelines and infrastructure to support the energy boom is generating many opportunities in industries closely linked to oil and gas. Growing demand for the sand used in fracking operations has boosted employment in the industrial sand mining sector by nearly 50% in the last three years, according to research. With the quest for home-grown energy sources driving the push towards shale gas – a situation that might well be replicated in the UK – it is not hard to see further expansion on the horizon.