Skip to main content


There are up to 50,400 employees in the Cogent sector, which is 3% of all Scottish jobs. The majority of these employees work full-time, are male. Over the longer term employment levels in the sector are projected to decline. 73% of the UK Oil and Gas industry is concentrated in Scotland, particularly the North and North East. In central Scotland, employment is clustered around the refinery at Grangemouth. Petrochemical and polymer industries are located across Stirlingshire to Fife and Strathclyde. The nuclear industry is located in Dounreay (in decommissioning), power stations in Ayrshire, East Lothian and Dumfriesshire, plus a Ministry of Defence site in Faslane. This Scottish nuclear industry accounts for 15% of the total industry workforce.

There are around 1,500 workplaces of which 67% employ between one and 10 employees.

79% of the workforce are male. The average age of employees in the sector is 41 years. Only 9% of the sector in Scotland is aged 16-24 years, whilst 26% are aged 45-54 years. 98% of the Cogent workforce in Scotland is white.

The occupational profile of the sector is very different to that of the Scottish economy. A high proportion of employees are process, plant and machine operatives which is higher than other sectors in Scotland.

The mean weekly wage is £577.88.

There is a high percentage of skills gaps in this sector compared to others in the Scottish labour market with 29% of employers reporting internal skills gaps. Skills gaps are reported for team working, planning and organising, problem solving and customer handling skills. There are 53% hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 43% in all Scotland

The Cogent sector workforce in Scotland has a higher qualification level (68%) than the UK sector workforce (53%) and the overall Scottish workforce (57%). However, there is a deficit of employees qualified to Level 2 (26%) and Level 3 (8%). There is an indication that employers need to better utilise the high level skills held by the workforce.

83% of employers fund or arrange training for their staff compared to 66% of employers in Scotland. However, employers in other sectors are less likely to judge their staff not proficient. Off-the-job training is more common in the sector. Employers in the sector are less likely to participate in modern apprenticeships and other government funded training schemes compared to other sectors.

Workplaces in the sector are more likely to recruit graduates (36%) compared to other sectors (16%). A higher proportion of recruitment is from universities, than schools and further education institutions. On-going recruitment in the sector is essential to maintain core operations and for replacement of those retiring.

Expected future challenges for the sector include changes in the structure of the market (such as decommissioning and outsourcing where work is subcontracted to another organisation) and increasing competition from both within and outside Scotland.

Sources: Cogent regional factsheet 2008, Futureskills Scotland Sector Profile 2007 and Cogent Sector Skill Needs Assessment 2006