Scotland business

Oil and gas recruitment job adverts 'putting off women'

Image caption A recent study suggested Aberdeen needed 120,000 recruits if it were to realise its full potential

Efforts to attract female workers to the oil and gas industry are being undermined by recruitment campaigns featuring "scantily clad women in hard hats", a union official has told MSPs.

Stephen Boyd from the STUC made the claim at Holyrood's equal opportunities committee.

He said the industry was "excluding 50% of women through that type of recruitment strategy".

His comments come as the sector faces a potential skills shortage.

A recent study by accountants PwC said Aberdeen needed 120,000 recruits if it were to realise its full potential.

Initiatives are already being undertaken in the north east to encourage more women to take up careers in areas such as engineering.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson told the Holyrood committee that schools in areas such as Aberdeenshire were introducing both boys and girls to the sector at S2 level by teaching modules on energy production.

He said the courses seemed to be successful in the north east and suggested they could be introduced to more schools across the country.

"With the skills shortage, I think the private sector is more keen to encourage women," he added.

'Interesting example'

But Mr Boyd, who is assistant secretary of the STUC, said the oil and gas sector was "a very interesting example".

He told MSPs: "Colleagues who work in the Close the Gap project (an initiative which aims to close the gender pay gap) have shown me a number of adverts for the oil and gas sector, which are essentially 'come and work in the oil and gas sector'.

"And the pictures which accompany them feature scantily clad women wearing hard hats.

"What sort of message does that send out to women?"

He added: "The industry is telling us that they need people but they are basically excluding 50% of women through that type of recruitment strategy.

"If you're a young woman, you're not going to work in a sector that is throwing images back at you like that."

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