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Equal Opportunities


There is an under-representation of women in most industries within the Cogent sector, 28%. This representation is even lower in the nuclear industry at 18% and 21% in both oil and gas industry and polymers.

Under-representation of women in the sector is thought to be the result of a combination of factors. Historically, the industries have been dominated by male workforce (as much of their recruitment was from declining heavy industries). Employment in the sector is heavily focused upon science, engineering and technical job roles which have also historically been dominated by males. Study of subjects that can lead into such occupations has a gender bias with a lower proportion of females studying related subjects at each advancing level of study. In addition to this, a low proportion of part-time jobs and the expectation that work in the sector is shift-based potentially impacts upon the options for female returners to work.

Over the next ten years, it is predicted that the number of women working in the sector will increase slightly from 27.9% to 29.4% in 2014, of this 1% will be the part-time share of women.

The proportion of female graduates interested in the sector relevant subjects has increased over the last 10 years. For specific subjects this varies considerably. For instance, in chemistry and geology the proportion of female graduates has increased and in mechanical engineering, the proportion of women has remained unchanged over the last 10 years and is the lowest at around 8%.

In the sector industries the following statistics are available:

  • chemical – 27% of the workforce are female; 2.3% are in process operations; and 20% in professional roles
  • petroleum – 50% of forecourt cashiers and mangers are female; and 7% of forecourt maintenance employees are female
  • polymer – 6.9% are female in sign making; and 21.2% are female in rubber processing and plastics
  • oil and gas – 21% employed in all companies are female

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent Sector Skill Needs Assessment 2006 and Working Futures 2004-2014


The representation of people from ethnic minority groups differs greatly across the industries. Across the Cogent sector, approximately 6% of the workforce are non-white compared to 7% in the UK workforce.

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009



Overall, the Cogent sector has an ageing demographic profile and needs to attract younger people into the workforce to replace those retiring and leaving the sector. Within the Cogent sector, the industries with the largest proportion of older workers (over 45 years) are Chemicals, Oil and Gas and Petroleum. In these three industries, approximately 45% of the workers are included in the 45-55+ years age group. By contrast, the Nuclear and Pharmaceutical industries currently employ larger numbers of workers under the age of 45, at 36% and 34% respectively.

In the chemical industry, there is an ageing workforce with fewer young people opting for science careers in general. Less than 4% of process operators are under 25 years, while 23% are over 50 years.

In the nuclear industry, a high level of replacement demand is expected in the next 15 years as large numbers will be retiring. Process operators have an ageing workforce with 14% aged over 55 years, although demand for this group will be declining as the industry moves into decommissioning this is outstripped by replacement demand.

There is an ageing workforce in the oil and gas industry with 8% of the workforce aged 24 years or under, 25% are 25-34 years, 22% are 35-44 years, 30% are 45-54 years, and 14% over 55 years. However, the introduction of modern apprentices is expected to have an impact on the age profile of production and maintenance technicians.

The age profile of the petroleum industry by job is very varied and there are some concerns with regard to an ageing workforce. 43% of team leaders and supervisors in the sector are aged 45 years and over, plus 48% of drivers are aged 45 years and over. Much lower proportions of people employed in the industry are aged under 25 years: only 2% of team leaders and supervisors; 6% of control room operators; and 6% of routers and schedulers.

In the polymers industry there are a large number of employees aged 55 years plus (19%), so there is an urgent need for young recruits. The age profile across different parts of the industry is similar with the exception of rubber processing:

  • sign making – 48% are aged 25-39 years; 4% aged 16-19 years
  • rubber processing – 80% are 25-54 years; 1% aged 16-19 years
  • plastics – 42% are aged 25-39 years; 5% aged 16-19 years

Sources: Cogent Industry factsheets 2008, Skills for Science Industries 2008 and Cogent Sector Skill Needs Assessment 2006


There seems to be no data are available on numbers employed with a disability.