The comments come as the sector continues a steady recovery, generating a number of new technical and engineering posts. However, there is currently a shortage of people with the necessary skills and experience to fill the posts, caused partly by the lure of better paid positions overseas, combined with a lack of new engineering graduates.
According to Graeme Fyfe, director of Hays' Oil and Gas division in Scotland, employers will need to compromise on non-essential aspects, take a much broader view of their skills requirements and also ensure they have a long-term strategy to address the issue with an investment in training and development.
"The good news is that energy projects that were previously on hold are now being reinstated and offshore fields which reduced production are coming back online," said Fyfe.
"But there is currently a serious shortage of people with the rights skills and experience to fill the posts that are being generated. This applies across the board, but the pinch point is in mechanical and project management roles. Almost without exception, our clients are looking for skilled project engineers who tend to be at the heart of any manufacturing process - but they simply aren't available.
"There isn't time to train them or wait for the next influx of graduates, so in the meantime employers should take a more strategic approach and consider if people from other industry sectors could fulfil these jobs, albeit with some additional learning. For example, we have recently placed a project manager from construction into a manufacturing role in subsea systems and equipment. Another candidate with experience in a heavy forged products environment has relocated to Aberdeen and is now working for a company that manufactures offshore equipment.”
According to Fyfe, people who work in construction, defence, automotive and other large complex engineering industries are often already working to the high standards that are required in the oil and gas sector. So possess many transferable technical and project management skills. This is more cost-effective in the longer term, he believes, than offering higher salaries or delaying projects.
"There needs to be a balance between encouraging more people into science and engineering and employers being much more strategic in their forward planning. Not only is there a shortage of new talent but a ‘brain drain’ is causing many of our skilled engineers to relocate overseas at a critical time when we need the right people in place to grow the industry.”
For further information and to access jobs visit www.hays.co.uk/oil-and-gas.