Workforce Report preps industry for future of automation & technology

31 July 2018


Each job in Australia’s oil and gas sector is responsible for another 10 roles through the Australian economy, a new report into the future of work has found.

The report, released today by NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) - the Australian Government's Industry Growth Centre for the oil, gas and energy resources sector - outlines the future skill requirements and workforce challenges expected to be faced by the oil and gas sector in 2030 through the uptake of automation and technology.

Preparing Australia's Future Oil and Gas Workforce charts the potential trajectory of the oil and gas workforce in Australia in the years ahead and what the likely impacts on workforce size could be.

Analysis used in the report shows Australia’s energy resources sector remains one of the country’s most high-value employers with each oil and gas worker creating another 10 jobs across the wider economy – generating five times more indirect employment than an average worker in other industries.

However, the industry’s ability to respond to future workforce changes remains uncertain and heavily dependent on external factors that are difficult to predict, including the oil price, global supply and demand and government policy.

Recognising this, the report uses specific scenario analysis to identify what Australia’s oil and gas workforce might look like by 2030. The report estimates the potential direction of industry growth and employment so that companies, workers and policymakers can make informed decisions and prepare for future skill requirements.

It also highlights roles in the oil and gas workforce will continue to change due to greater use of new energy, automation and digitisation across the sector as well as decommissioning, and the skill sets predicted to be most affected.

The report also outlines that:

  • new jobs will emerge in the oil and gas industry including through artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists, plant decommissioning roles and job opportunities around carbon capture, renewables and other forms of unconventional energy to complement existing oil and gas extraction;
  • with a direct workforce of 19,000 across Australia, the oil and gas sector also supports an additional 103,000 jobs through the supply chain. In addition, the consumer spending of all these workers created a further 88,000 jobs in 2016;
  • about five per cent of the direct workforce could be employed in jobs related to automation and digitisation by 2030.

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said the report was not an attempt to predict the future but rather, an important opportunity to test the oil and gas industry’s capacity to prepare for future workforce requirements and maintain its global competitive advantage.

“As part of the Industry Growth Centres Initiative, NERA has a mandate to help the energy resources sector respond to emerging workforce trends and this Report is a step towards developing a common expectation about the skills needed by the oil and gas industry by 2030,” Ms Taylor said.

“We have seen from the previous period of rapid growth across Australia’s oil and gas industry that sector-wide collaboration to address workforce planning issues is absolutely critical to maintain and increase efficiencies and embrace new technology.

“In future, we are likely to see a far greater focus on delivering flexible training and the ongoing addition of micro-credentials that will ensure industry can adapt to rapidly changing technology. Take, for example, the future of instrumentation workers needed to operate and maintain Australia’s LNG and other process plants and to work with data, AI and robotics. This will require skills that are not pure electrical, mechanical or chemical so it will demand a far more flexible approach to ‘qualifications’. To address this need, tertiary institutions such as Curtin University in Western Australia, are now offering new courses such as Mechatronics coupled with Engineering and Computer Science, building future skills into the next generation of workers.

“An important part of this process is informing the sector about expected workforce trends, collaborating with education and training providers to ensure they are developing and maintaining an adequate pipeline of appropriately skilled personnel, and assisting the current workforce embrace opportunities created by changes driven by economic and technological trends.

“The industry must transform to fully realise the value of the oil and gas sector to the Australian economy and be globally competitive.”

NERA is committed to ensure Australia’s oil and gas workforce remains as agile and flexible as possible as potential scenarios of workforce and industry change eventuate. By working with key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry on the key issues outlined in the report, NERA can assist the sector navigate future workforce challenges ahead and maintain its global competitive advantage.

An online occupation tool is available to use on the NERA website which will provide existing and future workers in the industry with an opportunity to see how different occupations have changed over time and how they could evolve in future. This will help workers in the industry to better manage their own careers and allow industry stakeholders to manage their workforces. Use the tool and read the report at