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An oil worker removes a thread cap from a piece of drill pipe, near Midland, Tex., on Feb. 12, 2019.NICK OXFORD/Reuters

The oil and gas industry risks a huge work force shortage as more than half of workers in the sector seek to move into the renewable energy industry, a survey published on Tuesday showed.

The survey conducted as part of a report by recruitment firm Brunel and Oilandgasjobsearch.com showed that 43 per cent of workers want to leave the energy industry altogether within the next five years.

When asked which sectors they’d pursue employment opportunities in, 56 per cent of those working in oil and gas said renewables, compared to 38.8 per cent last year.

Energy companies ranging from Royal Dutch Shell and BP to smaller exploration firms cut tens of thousands of jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as they tightened budgets.

Now, as energy demand and prices recover strongly around the world, many companies are finding it hard to recruit again.

Oil and gas companies have faced growing pressure from investors, activists and governments to fight climate change, making them less attractive to young professionals.

While BP, Shell and many of its peers reduce spending on oil and gas, they are also seeking to rapidly grow their low-carbon and renewables businesses, often retraining staff.

“With more workers gravitating towards the renewables sector, it’s likely that the industry will continue to see an exit from those in traditional sectors,” the report said.

“The higher salaries offered by the renewables and mining sectors are making roles in these areas more appealing, which adds to the pressure faced by recruiters in the oil and gas sector.”

The survey found that 10 per cent of employers have had to pay retirees to come back to take unfilled job openings due to the skills shortage.

And 82 per cent of recruiters said that one in 10 of their open positions have been unfilled for more than three months.

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