Ways of coming to terms with, and mitigating the present and future skills gaps in the UK’s vitally important maritime and offshore oil and gas industry lie at the heart of a new report published today (3 March) by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) and the UK’s number one engineering recruitment agency, Matchtech.
With 16 key recommendations (attached) the report is a call to arms for all sections of the industry – professional bodies, the engineering community, the maritime and offshore oil and gas community, university faculties, HE providers, training providers, the media – and government.
The report ‘Mitigating the skills gap in the maritime and offshore oil and gas market’ (available at www.imarest.org/skillsgap) discusses the findings following a roundtable of key industry stakeholders (listed in the report) involved within the maritime and offshore oil and gas industries on the engineering skills gap within the UK, and draws on the results of a survey of 500 companies actively involved in the sectors including naval and defence, commercial, leisure, shipping and offshore sectors together with academia.
The report is set against the background of estimates that the wider maritime-related economy generates around £46bn of UK GDP, provides 890, 000 jobs, accounts for approximately 3% of the global maritime-related market of £2 trillion; and that total sales stand at £7.6bn a year, contributing £3.1bn to UK GDP and employs 105, 000 in the design, build, manufacture and support of vessels.
“The majority of UK trade is dictated by the sea, with over 90% of the UK’s goods and half of its energy resources shipped in to the UK from around the world, ” says IMarEST’s Chief Executive, David Loosely, setting the scene. “Shipping remains the cornerstone of the UK economy generating more than £1 million every hour of every day and making a £6.1 billion value-added contribution to UK GDP.
“We have therefore to think of how to skill up for the industry’s growth opportunities. If industry fails to address the increasing skills gap, there is a very definite threat to these vital sectors of our economy. We are not ‘pointing the finger’ and saying ‘government must’, but it is essential that we all pull together to ensure the success of the industry and its diverse sectors.
“We publish the report against the backdrop of news that saw the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on the recent publication of the Wood Review of the offshore oil and gas industry, say ‘I promise we will continue to use the UK’s broad shoulders to invest in this vital industry so we can attract businesses, create jobs, develop new skills in our young people and ensure we can compete in the global race’; of a report by the Scottish Government of more than 19, 000 people starting Modern Apprenticeships during the first three quarters of the financial year with ’key areas, such as construction and engineering very well represented’. Much more needs to be done. Now is the time to start a cross industry drive!”
In addition to its table of 16 firm recommendations, the 32-page report has insightful sections devoted to ‘The big picture’; ‘A startling perspective’; ‘Women in engineering’; ‘Professional development’; ‘Graduates’; Industry roundtable findings and recommendations’ citing six particular areas:-
- Engineering as a career – ‘Engineering a dirty word? We need to change the UK’s perception
- UK maritime and offshore oil and gas as a ‘brand’ – ‘The percentage of ‘air time’ that engineering receives in UK media is often far less than the more represented sections of engineering such as motorsport and aerospace’
- Schools – “The UK’s future competitiveness in the global engineering space hinges on its continued ability to produce the best talent”
- Education and skills progression – “We need to fund stage not age”
- Women in engineering – “The level of female engineers in the UK is the lowest in Europe – for an industry with such a skills gap this makes no sense at all”
- The role of professional development – “Professional development creates recognised engineers, who become better at their jobs and make industry more profit”
and conclusions –
- “We do it better together”
- To demonstrate the importance and size of the skills gap, encourage joined up thinking and make recommendations on how the industry can sustain its future growth
- Without intervention the growth potential of UK maritime and offshore has an uncertain future
- 91% of respondents believe that a skills gap will adversely affect their business over the next 12 months
The next steps
“Publishing the report is only the first stage of our involvement in this all-important and on-going challenge, ” says David Loosely. “Now we need to use the findings to galvanise all concerned to take on board the recommendations, and act! The IMarEST will be hosting the Skills Group which falls under the Marine Industries Leadership Council and will see a number of the items in the report to be discussed on how best to address the issue. The first meeting is set to take place in early April.”
As well as hosting the Skills Group, the IMarEST is developing an early careers strategy to support the promotion of the marine sector. This includes taking an active role in ‘Careers Day’ at the forthcoming Oceanology International Exhibition and Conference (11-13 March, ExCeL London) and organising the second European International Submarine Races in partnership with QinetiQ. Being held from the 7-11 July 2014 the week-long event is set to inspire students about the marine sector and to engage industry with academia, whilst providing a platform to build on the recommendations made in the report by promoting the sector as being exciting, full of opportunity – and fun.
“Undersea engineering is an example of a rapidly developing and growing area of technology desperately in need of new graduates and technicians, ” adds David Loosley. “Engineering firms are hiring all around the world, and the demand for energetic, enthusiastic new engineers is showing no sign of slowing down. We are pleased to run such an exciting event to promote the opportunity of careers available and to encourage the uptake of maritime related courses or degrees.”
Further information on the human-powered submarine races is at www.subrace.eu; careers day at Oceanology International is at www.oceanologyinternational.
About the Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
The IMarEST is an international membership body and learned society for all marine professionals. The IMarEST (a registered charity) is the first Institute to bring together marine engineers, scientists and technologists into one international multi-disciplinary professional body. It is the largest marine organisation of its kind with a worldwide membership of around 15, 000 based in over 100 countries.
Working with the global marine community, the IMarEST promotes the scientific development of marine engineering, science and technology, providing opportunities for the exchange of ideas and practices and upholding the status, standards and expertise of marine professionals worldwide.
The IMarEST has a growing network of Corporate Marine Partners who benefit from a tailored programme to support each global organisation’s specific requirements. Packages provide companies with a competitive edge by investing in staff and supporting Initial and Continuous Professional Development, supporting local, national, or international promotional programmes, providing specialised recruitment solutions, accrediting training courses, creating bespoke networking events and providing company employees with access to one of the largest online knowledge resources – the IMarEST Virtual Library.
The IMarEST is a respected authority in every maritime country. It is a Non-Governmental Organisation with consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), observer status at the International Oceanographic Commission, and it has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), which facilitates its access to other international intergovernmental meetings where its specialized marine expertise is of particular use, e.g., the United Nations meetings on Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and the work of the International Seabed Authority on marine mining. It is a nominated and licensed body of the Engineering Council (UK), a member of the Science Council and has significant links with many other maritime organisations worldwide.
IMarEST runs a series of industry leading and technically excellent events and conferences as well as publishing internationally recognised publications: Marine Engineers Review (MER); Shipping World and Shipbuilder; Maritime IT and Electronics; Marine Scientist; and Offshore Technology. www.imarest.org
Matchtech is the no.1 engineering recruitment agency in the UK*.
Matchtech takes a proactive lead in changing the perception of recruitment and has created strong ethics and values to support its vision and goals. It was also one of the first recruitment agencies to be awarded the Recruitment & Employment Confederation Audited status, which represents the “Gold Standard” of the corporate REC membership.
With a passion for quality, its staff works to the most rigorous standards in the recruitment industry. Its goal is to always exceed the expectations of its customers and lead the recruitment sector through effective delivery and quality of service.
*Source Recruitment Internationals The Top 250 Report 2011, Volume 14.