There has been an increase in the number of people working offshore in the UK oil and gas industry since 2006 and the average age of the workforce has remained reasonably constant at just over 41 years.

Positively, there are two and a half times as many workers aged between 23 and 28 as there are aged between 60 and 65, indicating the offshore industry continues to attract new entrants.

These are among the key findings from Oil & Gas UK’s 2012 Demographics Report, which builds a profile of the UK offshore oil and gas industry’s workforce demographic. The report – produced using data from the Vantage Personnel On Board (POB) system, a database used to track all offshore travellers in the UK – provides insight into past and potential future changes in the offshore workforce.

The report finds:

•52,300 people travelled offshore in 2011, an increase of five per cent since 2006.

•The proportion of core offshore workers (those working over 100 nights a year offshore) has increased to 23,758, and now represents 45 per cent of the total workforce compared to 39 per cent in 2006.

•Since 2006, there has been a decrease in workers aged between 35 and 49, but large increases in younger workers, particularly aged between 24 and 29.

•There are two and a half times as many 23 to 28-year-olds as there are 60 to 65-year-olds travelling offshore.

•The female workforce still makes up a small proportion of the offshore population – just 3.7 per cent, with 30 per cent of those working in catering. Half of all offshore disciplines have no female representation and, if you take catering workers out of the equation, the number of female employees is lower than in 2007.

•The average age of the offshore workforce in 2011 was 41.4 and the core workforce had an average age of 42.5.

Oil & Gas UK’s employment and skills issues manager, Dr Alix Thom, said: “The oil and gas sector supports many thousands of high quality jobs in the UK and is a major driver for economic growth.

“Oil & Gas UK’s 2012 Demographics Report highlights a number of important findings which will help the industry to better understand the profile of the offshore workforce and plan accordingly to make sure we have access to the right skills to meet the growing demand.

“There are many positives such as the increase we’re seeing in the number of workers travelling offshore and the big increase in the number of younger workers. These lead us to expect that in the next few years, more people will join the UK oil and gas industry and gain experience than those who leave through retirement or relocation.

“The average age of 41.4 – and 42.5 for core workers – falls in line with our expectations, particularly given a workforce of predominantly 20 to 60-year-olds.

“A decrease in the number of 35 to 49-year-olds, however, gives us something to think about. We know the industry considers many mid-career, engineering, managerial and professional scientist roles the most difficult to fill with suitably qualified and experienced workers in short supply. This is thought to be a result of skilled and experienced workers moving to work abroad in response to growing demand from a thriving industry around the world.

“We also know there is an under-representation of women in virtually all offshore roles and the industry would benefit from tapping in to this valuable resource more effectively.

“Oil & Gas UK is working closely with its members and with OPITO to develop a collaborative strategy to address the skills demand and grow the talent pool further.”