The rapid transformation occurring in the energy sector is creating a window of opportunity for today and tomorrow’s workforce. The energy transition and path to net-zero are shaping the future of work in the sector, with a goal not only to create new skills or reskill the current energy workforce, but also to identify the transferrable skills that can be used across the industry.
During the last Equate Meetup, we had the opportunity to learn more about what this means for women with STEM skills, and how best to approach the current job market and energy landscape. We had a fantastic panel of women professionals who shared their journeys with Equate’s Women’s Network. Their stories reflected the variety of skills, profiles, and opportunities available in the sector at various career stages.
If you missed it, we’ve summarised some of the key takeaways and information shared during the Equate Energy Meetup on June 8.
The Energy sector: definition & current landscape
The energy sector includes everything from exploration stages to the supply of energy to customers. Companies involved in the sourcing, storage, production, transportation, and distribution of energy are categorised into the Energy sector. There are two types of energies:
- Renewable energy: wind, hydropower, solar, geothermal, biomass.
- Non-renewable energy: oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas.
When asked about one word that describes the sector some of the words used by our speakers included: ‘growth’ and ‘varied’. Both word choices depict a fast-changing and evolving sector where innovation and collaboration will be key to deliver on the energy transition.
Why is the industry important on a broader scale?
The Energy sector is a key driver of industrial growth and contributes significantly to the UK economy – as an example, the tax on the profits of oil and gas companies is expected to raise 5 billion pounds over the next year1. It supports over 700,000 jobs in the UK2, and more people will be needed in the coming years to support the energy transition.
The UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review3 (published in May 2021 by the Robert Gordon University) highlighted that:
- Around 200,000 skilled people will be needed in the UK offshore energy industry in 2030
- Over 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workforce have medium to high skills transferability and are well-positioned to work in adjacent energy sectors
- Soft skills, business skills and other non-technical skills are generally highly transferable to adjacent energy sectors
What is ‘Net Zero’?
Put simply, Net-Zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and put in the atmosphere versus what is taken out of the atmosphere.
As part of the global effort to fight the climate emergency, Scotland has set a target to become ‘Net Zero’ by 2045 (five years ahead of the rest of the UK).
What is the North Sea Transition Deal?
The North Sea Transition Deal4 was published last year, in March 2021. It explains how the UK Government and oil and gas companies will work together to deliver the skills and actions required to reach the target of net-zero.
OPITO, the global, not-for-profit, skills body for the energy industry was asked to lead the development of an integrated people and skills plan5 to support the UK Government’s North Sea Transition Deal’s rollout, and to assist with the transition of expertise across the energy industry.
Some of the topics and questions they are answering in the plan include: how to make a much more fluid career across sectors and the different types of energies? How to recruit, retain, and enhance the progression of the workforce? How to create new pathways and ensure an agile and flexible workforce within the Energy sector?
One sector, various career paths
Christine Currie, Head of Skills Policy, OPITO
Christine has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and PhD in Stakeholder Communication. She has been working in the industry for several years and has been involved in developing skills programmes and influencing the policy agenda on energy skills and workforce issues, globally. In her current role as OPITO’s Head of Skills Policy, she works on various projects including the delivery of the Integrated People and Skills Strategy.
Her practical tips to move into the energy industry include:
- Engage with industry news
- Stand out with training and technical knowledge
- Network, network, network
- Update your online profile
- Talk to sector specialists
- Research training
Jenny Kenny, UK Field Development Group Manager, Subsea 7
Jenny Kenny moved from Trinidad to study at Strathclyde University, in Glasgow. After graduating, she started her career as a Wireline Engineer in Las Morochas in Venezuela and later returned to Scotland after being awarded a Whitworth Scholarship and having completed her MEng. She worked as a Pipeline Design Engineer for 8 years before moving to Subsea 7. In 2020, Jenny held the position of President of the Whitworth Society and her vision was to identify ways of encouraging more women applicants for the scholarship. As a woman engineer, she is enthusiastic about developing and growing a diverse culture within the industry and helping more women into STEM.
During Equate Meetup, she used the term “emerging energy” to highlight the fact that we are in a period of transition and that we, collectively, need to find solutions and answers. She shared a positive message with the audience and believes that the current oil and gas workforce has the drive, expertise, skills and resilience to deliver on the energy transition.
Lisa Dougall, Energy Transition Lead for the UK & Global IRM region, Subsea 7
Lisa studied Business with Languages followed by Knowledge Management at University. She started working at Subsea 7 in 2004 as their first Business Graduate, not knowing what her career would hold. She spent time in various departments before landing in Sales & Marketing where she worked her way up to Tendering Manager before moving into her current role as the Energy Transition Lead for the UK & Global IRM region.
Here are a few of the things Lisa has learnt throughout the years evolving in the industry:
- You don’t need to know everything – instead, know who to ask for the answer.
- The ability to make decisions is key – even if you are not sure this is the right one.
- It is not just about having the best CV – but being the right person for the job.
Amanda Harvey, Senior Performance Delivery Analyst, SSEN Transmission
Amanda started her career in oil and gas, working in a wide variety of roles, some being: Offshore Production Engineer on a FPSO in the middle of the sea, west of Shetland; Start-up Engineer on a new gas-condensate field; and Business Strategy Analyst, working closely with Senior Leadership. After having her second child, she embarked on a four-year career break to focus on family life. When she was ready to return to work, Amanda felt on the back-foot and couldn’t see a route back into the Oil and Gas industry, as it was no longer desirable to her. She was fortunate to discover STEM Returners, which kick-started a new career in an exciting new sector: Electricity Transmission.
Amanda shared some of the things she wishes she would have known, at various stages of her career.
When joining the industry…
- Confidence is key but you don’t have to be an extrovert to build a successful career – be yourself!
- You don’t have to have “women only” mentors or role models – stay open to all opportunities for personal growth and development
When taking a career break…
- Some people will always question your actions so trust your instincts
- You can learn transferrable skills without working
When returning to work…
- Being transparent about flexible working doesn’t put people off, even if the role isn’t billed part-time
- It doesn’t take long to build confidence back and there is a lot of help available out there
Career resources and networking channels for women in Energy:
- POWERful Women – https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/networking/
- Energy Institute – https://www.energyinst.org/
- Axis Network – https://www.axisnetwork.co.uk/