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Downstream petroleum workforce could face potential skills shortages

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to a new report, the perception that the downstream petroleum industry’s workforce is not part of achieving net zero targets in green industries will affect companies’ ability to recruit skilled staff.

Published by Cogent Skills, the report, ‘A greenprint on skills for the low-carbon industries’ reveals that almost 62% of downstream businesses, despite their ability to contribute to a low-carbon economy, believe it will be increasingly difficult to hire people with the right skills.

The extent of the talent and skills challenge for the sector is shown by the 52% drop in new apprenticeships since 2015 – 2016 and an-ecdotal reports of younger employees moving to jobs in low-carbon industries.

The report highlights how petrochemicals remain an important raw material for a number of industries. For example, needle coke is a key precursor for anode materials in batteries, while analysis shows a substantial overlap between downstream petroleum and low-carbon technologies, including hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).

However, the way companies transition – either by modifying ex-isting products or expanding their operations to include low- car-bon technologies – will affect skills demands: while the former re-quires some adjustments in quality control to meet different standards, introducing new activities will require greater upskilling and retraining.

Justine Fosh, CEO at Cogent Skills, said: “Established industries such as downstream petroleum must attract a workforce which can maintain operational resilience while advancing strategies for long-term sustainability.”

The report provides recommendations for the future workforce in downstream petroleum which includes promoting careers outreach programmes to educate and inspire young people to enter the sec-tor and raising awareness of the sector’s transitional role in securing net zero.

Fosh added: “This report is the start of a conversation around the specific skills to drive growth across a range of emerging, low-carbon industries. However, with uncertainty about the skills re-quired and their availability, industry must collaborate and forge partnerships to understand the skills requirement and develop a strategy to deliver the talent needed for green transition and growth. And this includes creating diverse apprenticeship stand-ards that will reflect today’s technologies and industry needs. Un-less industry can access the next generation of talent – including engineers, scientists, technicians and operators – any plan for a just transition will fall short. That means harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of younger people to tackle the climate crisis by showing how science and technology is a route to making mean-ingful change, as well as a rewarding career.”

Among a range of actions, Cogent Skills will be conducting re-search and mapping courses currently available to upskill and re-skill the existing workforce.

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