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The future of the energy industry: Transferable skills from oil & gas to renewable energy jobs


Today’s energy industry is at a turning point. It is transitioning from the old fossil fuel-based energy system to a new clean, renewable energy system. With this change in the sector, there will be changes in workforce skills and qualifications required of employees. Because of this energy jobs are becoming much more popular.

The key skills needed for many years by oil and gas companies, such as technical knowledge of drilling equipment or cementing methods, are now just one part of what it takes to succeed.

Oil & gas workers who want to stay relevant need to develop new skills. Like understanding renewable energy technology or how their role fits into the wider business ecosystem – which includes working with other industries outside their own company’s sphere of influence.

The UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review

A new study conducted by Robert Gordon University (RGU) revealed that over 90% of oil and gas personnel have medium to high skills transferability. This puts them in a strong position to work within related energy sectors such as offshore wind, hydrogen fuel, and carbon capture technology.

With over £174 billion in investments on the horizon for the UK offshore energy sector by 2030, an estimated 200,000 skilled workers will be required to ensure the delivery of these projects over the coming decade.

RGU’s UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review predicts that roughly 80% of the energy jobs that will be in high demand for the future are within engineering, finance, operations, HR, HSE, commercial/business/development/marketing, procurement/supply chain management, technicians and projects.

Other less technical skills tend to be more easily transferrable.


Change is in the wind for the renewable sector

The offshore workforce is expected to become increasingly regionalised as energy systems become more localised and integrated regional energy clusters form.

People shifting from existing oil and gas occupations to offshore renewable roles, fresh graduates, and new recruits from outside the present UK offshore energy sector are expected to occupy almost half of the anticipated energy jobs by 2030.

This year alone, the UK offshore energy sector will employ roughly 160,000 people directly and indirectly. However, it’s estimated that upwards of a further 40,000 people will be required to support demand for the UK’s growing offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and essential ongoing oil and gas activities.

The offshore workforce is also likely to shift, with over two-thirds of the workforce supporting low-carbon energy initiatives by 2030.

Of the 200,000 individuals predicted to be working in the offshore energy industry over the next 10 years, roughly 90,000 (45%) will support offshore wind.

The Review urges the UK and devolved governments to collaborate with the offshore and higher education sectors to ensure the development of transferrable skills that preserve and support the vital UK energy workforce.

Renewed goals for the sector

According to The Review, a reduction in ambition, along with lower activity levels and an accelerated decline in the oil and gas industry, could reduce offshore energy labour requirements to fewer than 140,000 jobs by 2030.

With the overall number of jobs in the oil and gas sector expected to decline over time, job transferability to adjacent renewable sectors will be critical in securing ongoing world-class expertise and personnel.

The continuing shift to renewable energy presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the UK to train a new generation of net-zero energy workers. And use the highly transferrable skills of the current offshore sector to create a world-class net-zero workforce.

Investing in the future of renewable energy

The Higher Education sector will have a key role in ensuring that government and industry objectives are met. As well as upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to meet the urgent need of the evolving energy landscape.

Government officials have re-affirmed their commitment to ending Scotland’s contributions to climate change with plans to become a net-zero nation by 2050, ensuring a just transition that supports green energy jobs, skills, and expertise, leaving no one behind.

Another critical step for the government is to guarantee that consenting decisions on large renewable energy projects are made quickly. This will maintain a robust project pipeline in the coming years and assist the UK in achieving net-zero emissions as quickly as possible.

What renewable energy jobs are in demand?

Oil and gas personnel

Many of the skills and processes used within the oil & gas industry are regularly applied in the renewable energy industry, particularly in construction, engineering and management roles within the energy sector.

Applicants with a background in either oil & gas or civil engineering within the offshore sector are in high demand for roles in renewable energy projects.

Electrical engineers

This skillset is particularly desirable within the renewable energy jobs market. The skills required are very easily transferrable from one sector to another, so any electrical engineers looking for renewable energy jobs should have no trouble entering this arena.

Health and safety workers

While each industry has its own set of safety regulations, procedures, and rules, the critical skills within oil and gas companies’ health and safety departments will be easily transferrable and highly desirable in candidates seeking similar positions within the renewable sector.

Although additional training will be required during the switch, prior experience gained from working in the offshore industry will prove very valuable in the eyes of energy recruiters.


An energy recruiters guide to transitioning career

Here are a few things that we think might help you make the transition from oil to renewable energy jobs.

Understanding the energy jobs market

Stats from RenewableUK suggest that if the Government takes steps to maximise the economic benefits of renewable energy, a surge in contracts for renewable energy projects will result in a tidal wave of £20billion in investment and 12,000 new energy jobs in renewables and construction.

Big business responds to two things: demand and money. With the right Government incentives in place, it is suggested that

With that will come recruiters looking for transferable skills. Still, these recruiters won’t necessarily be fluent in the terminology used in the oil & gas industry.

Research the equivalent terms across each industry to make your resume more likely to appear in searches. Recruiters use keywords on platforms like LinkedIn, so make sure your profile is up to scratch along with your application and resume.

Making yourself as visible as possible is essential, particularly in areas with a high concentration of renewable energy candidates.

Our research indicates that some areas with a high density of renewable energy jobs include areas of the southwest of England, like Brighton and Guildford. So standing out from the crowd is even more important in these areas.

Find out what qualifications you need

A lot of the broad skills roles that are easily transferrable will also mean that some of the qualifications you already have from previous oil and gas roles will be both applicable and desirable.

Make sure you understand what prospective renewable energy employers and recruitment agencies are looking for in a candidate. And make sure you put your best foot forward by emphasising these in your applications.

Reference your qualifications across leadership, health and safety or management front and centre on your resume and cover letters. The industry that the experience was gained in is less relevant than your actual qualifications and skills.

Train, train and train some more

Keep your eyes open for training opportunities in any form that may take. Some new roles will offer training from your first day that could span weeks or months.

If you want to sure up your skills or gain some new ones, why not look into taking some online courses. This is a great way to beef up your resume, especially if you have a significant unemployment gap.

Carrying out additional training also helps to convey your passion for the industry and your commitment to personal and professional growth.

Looking for a recruitment partner to help you through this transition?

With so many potential opportunities on the horizon, the time to transition to a career in renewable energy has never been brighter.

Our candidates have made their careers out of being the right person for a job. They have proven their value over and over again.  So let us help you find the perfect match for your next renewable energy role.

Explore our available positions, or connect with one of our recruiters to help find the right fit for you. Contact us today.

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