UKPIA publishes review of future skills needs as fuels sector looks towards Net Zero

The review identifies four themes the sector needs to embrace to attract and retain the skills it requires

The United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) in partnership with Cogent Skills have published a review into the future skills needs of the fuels sector as it moves towards Net Zero by 2050.

The review identifies four themes the sector needs to embrace to attract and retain the skills it requires:

  • Develop and expand the role of apprentices including to upskill existing employees
  • Address the perceptions of the industry for example by clarifying its essential role in nation’s energy transition
  • Understand, anticipate and respond to the current and potential skills gaps
  • Promote the benefits of industrial clustering for skills development and attractive career pathways

Elizabeth de Jong, Chief Executive of UKPIA said:

“The focus of the sector remains ensuring that the UK’s fuel supply network continues to operate while we build a stronger, sustainable industry capable of building lasting growth and prosperity. This will only happen if employers have access to the skills they need as the sector evolves.

This review provides a timely opportunity to drive change and improve the outlook of both the existing and future workforce and I look forward to working with government, Cogent and our members to deliver on the areas this report identifies are in need of action.”

The report provides the evidence that employers need to further develop their skills strategies. It focuses on skills that are essential to current and future industry roles, predominantly in refining manufacturing and production.

The research shows that 62% of sector respondents predict it will become increasingly difficult to hire staff with the right skills, with just 15% of employees optimistic that finding the right staff will become easier in future.

In addition, just 8% of employers felt it would become ‘somewhat easy’ to retain staff in the future, with 54% thinking it will be ‘somewhat difficult’ and 8% ‘very difficult.’

UKPIA has worked with Cogent Skills, the UK strategic body for skills in the science industries, to assess the current themes for workforce recruitment and retention and consider future needs of the sector as it moves towards Net Zero.

Justine Fosh, CEO of Cogent Skills, said:

“The ability of the downstream sector to attract, retain and develop the talent it needs is not only a fundamental requirement for the stable operation of the nation’s fuel supply network - it’s a prerequisite for delivering our Net-Zero ambitions.

This report highlights the need for collaborative skills action across the fuels sector, from expanding the use of apprenticeships at all levels to promoting the various attractive and rewarding career pathways available. I look forward to working with colleagues to develop the skills solutions that support continued industry investment and job growth.”

Further information

  • Cogent Skills carried out two surveys with key personnel from UKPIA member companies. The main survey used qualitative research to explore the challenges sector companies face attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce
  • A quantitative survey of UKPIA members provides detail of the current sector workforce, adding context to the review
  • The data has been aggregated and anonymised so that opinions expressed cannot be linked to individual employers
  • The full report can be downloaded from
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