Skip to main content


The Cogent sector has a relatively high share of machine and transport operatives with more than one fifth of total employment in the sector in 2004. By industry, the occupational profile of the sector is very varied with a significant number of professionals employed within the nuclear industry (38%) and the oil and gas industry (21%).

Employment in the sector is expected decline over the next ten years especially amongst the Elementary occupations. Employment in these occupations is projected to decline by one third over the next 10 years. The priority areas for Cogent in the next ten years are going to be management occupations and operative level occupations. An estimated 55,000 Managers and Professionals will need to be replaced by 2022, plus 72,000 Technicians and Operators.

The core workforce of the sector consists of 45% Technical and Process workers. The Pharmaceuticals industry employs the largest proportion of Senior Management and Professional occupations (49%), with the Polymers industry employing the largest proportion of Technical and Process workers (58%).

Key occupational trends:

  • Managers in the sector tend to be graduates with professional qualifications, but need to maintain and develop their managerial skills
  • Process supervisors and engineers will continue to be an important group in the sector requiring continual updating of skills, knowledge and competence
  • Technicians are seen as one of the main foci in both recruitment and retention as they form part of the career path for supervisors and engineers.
  • Process operators form the largest group in the sector, but it has a rapidly ageing profile
  • Generic industry-based training and competence (including health, safety, security and environment) is needed for support staff, such as accountants and administrators

Sources: Skills for Science Industries 2008, Working Futures 2004-2014 and Cogent Sector Skill Needs Assessment 2006


Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 18% of employers in the sector report vacancies, which is the same as all sectors
  • 6% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 7% in all sectors
  • in total there are around 1,993 hard-to-fill vacancies reported, which is 0.5% of employment in the sector
  • 4% report skill shortage vacancies, compared to 5% in all sectors
  • the highest proportion of skills shortage vacancies are for Associate professionals and Skilled trades
  • 18% of establishments report skills gaps, compared to 15% in all sectors
  • proportion of staff described as lacking proficiency has remained unchanged from 2005 to 2007 at 8%

Skills gaps are highest for elementary, machine and transport operatives, and sales and customer services occupations. Gaps are reported to be for technical and practical skills, team-working and oral communication.

The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be:

  • increased workload for other staff
  • increased operating costs
  • delays developing new products

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2007


Occupational roles and sources of information

The Cogent careers website has a range of occupational information, including: podcast case studies and detailed job profiles.

The National Careers Service website also has detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the sector including:

These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual.

A variety of key roles in the oil, gas and petroleum sector are identified by Gradaute Prospects and detailed information is available. Some selected examples include: drilling engineer; distribution/logistics manager; environmental manager; geoscientist; geophysicist (field seismologist); mudlogger; and wellsite geologist. For information on these sector roles and others go to the Graduate Prospects website.