Are you currently working in the oil and gas sector but looking to transition into renewable energy?
A recent survey found that more than 75% of offshore oil and gas workers would be willing to make the move between sectors, with half of them stating their first choice would be a switch to wind energy.
Here are some key things to think about when considering a move into the offshore wind sector, and some tips to help you prepare your CV and be at your best for interview.
Offshore wind (OW) is a truly global industry. Being flexible to move to where the work is located is a perquisite that you must prepare for with your family. There are several key ‘hubs’ of offshore wind globally and new locations are emerging all the time. Some of the established bases are: London; Edinburgh; Glasgow; Hamburg; Bremerhaven; Copenhagen; Aarhus; Esbjerg; Amsterdam; and Paris. The emerging bases are: Taipei; Tokyo; Seoul; Ho Chi Min City; and Boston. For site-based roles, these will be near where the farms are located – you can research where those are here.
Remuneration packages for many roles in OW have traditionally been lower than oil and gas (O&G) levels. The OW sector has successfully reduced costs over the last 5 years and this focus on cost reduction has kept salaries and day rates in check. With the recent downturn in O&G these pay rates are more in line but, it is likely that a successful transition will require a reduction in pay, at least in the short term.
So, there’s a trade-off. Skills and experience v costs. Even the most qualified O&G professional will have to undertake an element of training and transitioning, paid for by the company. It may be that taking an initial step back in salary and investing in yourself, developing your knowledge, seeking out training opportunities and building your network could be the best way to thrive in the long run.
The wind industry is reaching a level of maturity, and is brimming with dedicated, passionate specialists who have come up through the ranks on various wind farm projects over the last 15/16 years. Coming into the sector at a very senior level with no offshore wind experience is therefore more challenging.
Often the best approach is to come in at a less senior level, learn the ropes and absorb as much information as you can, and try to get a project under your belt. The reward is that you become a very valuable commodity in a rapidly expanding market on a global basis.
Desirability and demand
OW is an attractive industry to be involved in thanks to its environment credentials, its growth curve, and its international potential. That means the volume of skilled professionals keen to move into the sector is growing year-on-year, including a new wave of talented graduates coming out of universities with dedicated renewable energy degrees, eager for a career in the sector. Companies are training them and they are progressing through the ranks, developing valuable networks, knowledge and experience. This makes securing a role in this sector all the more competitive.
The cultural differences between traditional O&G companies and OW businesses are becoming clear. Health & Safety is top priority in both sectors – that is a given. But for the last 5-10 years in OW, there has been a sharp focus on cost reduction and technology innovation. It’s therefore important to understand that traditional engineering approaches may not work based on this very cost-sensitive model, so a shift in mindset is required to successfully transition into the sector long-term.
Making the most of your application
With all of those considerations in mind, how can you improve your chances of success when applying for a role? Here are some thoughts based on our experience.
Top tips – your CV
- Make it relevant – don’t fill space talking about types of technical equipment you’ve worked with or workflows that are only relevant to O&G companies.
- Focus on the skills that can be transferred – highlight quantifiable results, metrics that apply to all large infrastructure projects, e.g. Health & Safety record, budget and time management, leadership skills – and all other competencies that apply across the board.
Top tips – your interview
- Communicate why you want to move to OW – are you passionate about green energy? Do you want to be part of an exciting growth industry? Are you keen to upskill and continually build on your existing experience?
Clearly demonstrate your motivation to make the transition. The OW sector is full of passionate people and the next person through the door is going to be hungry and committed to being involved in the sector – so that’s where you need to compete. The people at the top have been in the sector since the beginning because they love it.
- Do your homework – immerse yourself in the market. There’s a huge amount of useful resources out there to help you stay informed.
- Some things you should know –
- a brief history of the industry – its scale, size, regions and key players.
- a grasp of the different elements involved in projects – how long they take and the challenges they face.
- some recent innovations such as floating, HVDC and interconnection.
- Is your interview via Microsoft Teams or Zoom? Here are our tips for video interview success.
But, it’s not just offshore wind…
Green hydrogen and floating wind
There is an exciting opportunity emerging in green hydrogen, particularly in the north east of Scotland where the required skills currently reside. It’s a brand-new sector with no existing core of experienced workers that transferring workers need to defer to while they gain experience. With the right government support, earnings can be largely maintained.
The skills required to produce, store, transport, distribute and retail green hydrogen are largely the same in many areas as they are in natural gas production.
The existing offshore platforms that are facing costly decommissioning phases can be repurposed to house the electrolysers that can produce green hydrogen offshore. The operations and maintenance of these assets can be performed by the workforce doing this today.
Furthermore, deploying offshore wind turbines close to these assets can help us accelerate the commercialisation of floating foundations for these deep-water sites. The O&G industry has developed a world-leading capability in deploying floating platforms that can help speed up that process.
If you’re looking to make the transition, here are some further resources we’d recommend.
- Industry body websites:
RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables, Wind Europe, AWEA, Asia Wind
Crown Estate, IRENA, IEA, GWEC
- News portals:
ReNews, Recharge, Offshore Wind Biz
Have you already made the transition? Tell us about your experience.