Investing in the future of the energy sector

The oil and gas industry has historically provided young people with a plethora of career options.

However, the downturn has created a double-edged sword; with more organisations becoming reluctant to take on graduates – who in turn are having doubts about whether the industry is strong enough to sustain their future careers.

While the latest statistics show that the average age of offshore workers has increased since the downturn, subsea engineering analysis consultancy AgileTek is pushing against the grain and investing in young people.

Unusually for a small company, they have a young workforce with a high uptake of graduates. In a team of nine engineers, three have been recruited as graduates and six are under 30.

The company was established with a strong senior team in 2005, and has grown through graduate recruitment since then. AgileTek Managing Director, Steve Rossiter places huge importance on infusing the new, creative ideas that come from young people with the understanding and guidance of experienced staff members.

Steve said: “For me it’s about seeing them adapt to our culture and bring in new ideas. Graduates arrive from university with very little technical inhibition, they can think about what is possible without the constraints of commercial context that more experienced staff have. This infusion of new ideas and “can do” attitude is vital to our team.

“The ages of our staff really reflect the skills we look for. We place an emphasis on combining software development skills in a modern programming language with traditional engineering. These skills tend to be more widely held by younger engineers.”

AgileTek offers a work environment similar to a tech start-up but working on large engineering projects in the offshore energy sector. The company is based Southwark in the centre of London but offers opportunities to travel the world.

Graduate Engineering Analyst Soo-hyeong Kim, 29, joined the company earlier this month, after a year working for a software provider. He believes young people should not be put off entering the industry as skills are hugely transferrable.

He said: “Rather than a downturn, I think the industry is in transition from oil and gas into renewable energy. The nature of engineering provides opportunities to develop transferable skills and much of the aspects you enjoy within one sector can be found in another neighbouring sector as things progress and change. As an engineer it is about adapting and developing to suit the needs and requirements of the future.”

Recently graduated from Imperial College College with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, Andrew Olson also joined AgileTek this year.

The 22-year-old finds that working for a smaller dynamic company with fellow graduates allows him to have an impact and learn quickly.

He said: “I find the offshore industry fascinating, and the early involvement in projects, combined with the help of the senior engineers, is quickly developing my skills and knowledge.

“There is something not exclusive to, but more common in millennials when it comes to approaching work. In AgileTek, this means my colleagues and I are aware that work is not the sole purpose of life, but at the same time we work hard due to the culture of viewing work as ‘Hey, let’s do some cool engineering!’. This leads to a friendlier, more relaxed and more productive environment.”