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16,000 Extra Workers Needed in UK’s Offshore Wind Sector by 2030

December 5, 2023

Source: ECITB

Source: ECITB

A new labor forecasting tool (LFT) is predicting around 16,000 additional workers could be needed in the UK’s offshore wind industry by 2030, and 12,000 extra workers will be needed specifically for carbon capture and hydrogen projects by 2027.  

It also highlights a significant increase in demand for workers in the West of Shetland oil and gas basin.

The new resource, the first of its kind to focus on the engineering construction industry (ECI), provides insights into workforce numbers across regions and sectors, including oil and gas, up to 2035, predicting trends and potential future demand for workers.

It predicts the demand for new workers across the engineering construction industry by 2028 is much higher than previously thought. This includes mechanical and electrical engineers, scaffolders, process engineers, project managers, pipefitters, welders, and instrument and control technicians.

The LFT has been developed by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and Whole Life Consultants with the support of a technical reference group comprising key industry stakeholders.

The tool has been created using insights from the ECITB 2021 Workforce Census and data from 1,500 active and future ECI projects.

Among its initial findings, the LFT highlights that the offshore wind sector could see a 75% increase in demand for workers between 2023 and 2030, with no significant reduction until at least 2035, when the sector could account for 27% of the overall ECI workforce.

Of the nearly 8,000 additional workers potentially needed across the ECI to meet demand in 2024 alone, 40% of them could be required to work on offshore wind projects and 25% could work on the pre-construction phases of hydrogen and carbon capture projects.

The southern North Sea is the current main hotspot for offshore wind, with 36% of demand resulting from activity in this area. By 2035, the tool shows that activity could increase significantly in the Moray Firth (from 9% of demand in 2023 to 16%) and the Northern North Sea (from 5% to 26%).

The LFT also highlights that demand for oil and gas activity could shift significantly from the North Sea to the West of Shetland basin. Projects in this region could drive up to 20% of the demand for workers in the oil and gas sector by 2035.

The oil and gas sector is the largest in which engineering construction contractors operate, accounting for 32% of the ECI workforce in 2023.

However, the tool shows this could fall to 20% by 2035 due to a combination of a rise in other ECI sectors and a decline in production, with the LFT predicting a 30% decline in the oil and gas workforce between 2023 and 2035. These predictions are, however, based on data from the pipeline of projects known at this time.

ECITB Chief Executive Andrew Hockey said: “Attracting new entrants is a key priority for industry and the ECITB which is why half of the ECITB training grant budget is dedicated to new entrants.”

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