James Kenealey covid-19
Driving engineering skills between sectors could be the key in the UK recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report that has been published by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).
The report calls for an industry-wide exercise to catalogue skills sets and job roles that have transferable skills requirements and to identify which roles are likely to see less demand in the future, specifically across Britain’s energy sector.
It also examines what it sees as the barriers to transferability, including recruitment processes that compartmentalise roles and sectors and place restrictions on workers that otherwise could easily transfer.
Some of the harshest economic impact in the energy sector that has followed the pandemic has been within the oil and gas industry. Already there have been over 7,500 job losses with the worst estimates predicting that this could rise over the next 12-18 months to as high as 30,000.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the renewable energy, decarbonisation and hydrogen fuel sectors all about to see a huge rise in new jobs as the UK moves towards a carbon-neutral future. The ECITB asserts that correctly planning and coordinating both the pandemic and the transfer of skills present an opportunity to accelerate the transition.
Consequently, the ECITB is calling on all UK governments to put in place measures to support the reskilling of oil and gas workers for jobs in other sectors. Ensuring that there are enough newly skilled workers entering the industry is also key and this includes formulating education and training programmes that equip young people with a breadth of skills that allows for flexibility.
Among other key points in the report are; that the Construction Talent Retention Scheme should reskill and retrain those employees that can be to easily transfer between roles, sector-specific passports should be created that demonstrate competence assurance for an individual, and the development of a guide for employers about the benefits of skills transferability to inform the recruitment process.
Chris Claydon, Chief Executive of the ECITB, said:
“Before the pandemic hit, the UK’s engineering construction industry faced persistent skills shortages and despite the economic downturn and current pressures, our expectation is that overall workforce demand will continue to exceed supply over the coming decades. While skills transferability is pursued to a limited extent through the UK Government’s National Retraining Scheme, with careful planning and greater focus on sectoral needs, many highly skilled roles that are transferable across engineering construction sectors could be more easily moved. Economic pressures from Covid-19 and oil price depression could see the UK haemorrhage skilled workers. The government needs to act quickly on this dual opportunity to deliver against our net-zero commitment and prevent lasting unemployment in our industrial heartlands.”