THE North Sea oil and gas industry will need to recruit around 25,000 people over the next six years, including 4,500 to do jobs that don’t exist yet in areas such as data science a study has found.

However, the Skills Landscape report concluded the total number of people employed in the industry will fall by 15,000 by 2025 as fields run dry and more tasks are automated.

The findings of the report highlight the potential for advances in technology combined with the drive to reduce carbon emissions to have a huge impact on the North Sea supply chain workforce.

The study found companies will have to invest heavily in developing their workforces to ensure they capitalise on developments in fields ranging from computing to materials production to help boost their competitiveness.

Produced by sector skills body OPITO and Robert Gordon University, the study found diversification of oil and gas companies into broader energy activities will also boost demand for workers. Future roles may include ‘Artificial Intelligence Business Developer Builder’ and ‘3D Material Scientist’.

“We require a sharp focus on supporting the industry to take advantage of the benefits of digitisation and energy transition,” said OPITO ‘s Mark Cullens.

The study predicts total workforce numbers will fall to 155,000 in 2025 from 170,000.

While the authors do not expect firms to shed jobs on the scale seen amid the crude price plunge, the demand for workers will fall as production declines.

Report findings include the fact that 28% of people’s time is currently spent on repetitive, transactional activities which are more likely to become automated.