North Sea oil and gas workers are getting younger. Oil & Gas UK says the average age is now 40.4 — the lowest since the industry body began compiling the data in 2006.
OGUK said it “dispelled any notion of an ageing workforce in our waters”.
The organisation has just released the findings of its offshore workforce demographics report for 2009.
It found more than 51,000 people were travelling offshore to work, a 1% rise on the previous year and the highest recorded since 2006.
The study found evidence of much younger workers taking up positions in key areas. For example, there were increases in the numbers of 18 to 23-year-olds and 24 to 29-year-olds working in areas such as deck crew, drilling, electrical, management, production, rigging and scaffolding.
Although there was a rise in the number of women travelling to work offshore from the previous year, it was just a marginal one.
The report found 1,898 women were employed offshore, with 30% involved in catering. The average age for women travelling offshore was 35.6.
In terms of nationality, 84.9% of those travelling offshore were workers from the UK.
OGUK’s health, safety and employment issues director, Robert Paterson, said: “The latest offshore workforce demographics report highlights some very positive findings indeed.
“It’s encouraging to see evidence of not only the youngest recorded average age of offshore workers, but more and more young people under the age of 30 taking up important skilled jobs in key areas of the offshore industry.
“I think we can now put the myth to bed that the North Sea and wider UK Continental Shelf has an ageing workforce.
“Not only that, but it’s exciting to see more people working offshore than in previous years – something which clearly shows that the UK oil and gas industry is buoyant.
“The North Sea may be a ‘mature basin’, but anyone who thinks that operations are winding up is mistaken.
“That said, we still must continue to attract the next generation of young, skilled and talented individuals into working in this industry. This will be a significant challenge when there are other career opportunities in large-scale construction projects such as windfarms and the London Olympics.
“The positive trends highlighted here illustrate the good work being done by the industry to attract young, highly-skilled workers and demonstrate the excellent career prospects that it has to offer.”
By Ian Forsyth