OPINION: Can the oil and gas sector retain its top talent?

Published: 13 Apr 2018

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It’s no secret that the oil and gas sector has lost its former allure, and despite the ongoing posturing of top companies, the best graduates are still gravitating towards the renewable sector. The primary reasons for this, I believe, are self-evident.

Renewables- the thunder stealer

Cultural and environmental factors are frequently cited as the cornerstone of what makes Renewables attractive to the millennial generation, and findings in the 2017/2018 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) also divulge that renewable energy outperforms oil and gas in the key areas, such as training and development, diversity, and the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology.

The small steps made to reverse these trends in 2017/2018 will provide small consolation to the oil and gas industry, as the sector loses the battle for the hearts of the next energy generation- for now. This brings into sharp focus the necessity of retaining the talent that already exists within the sector. Fortunately for the power house of energy, this topic brings with it a much more cheerful forecast…

The Salary King is back

Oil and Gas continues to find its feet following the gut punch oil crash of 2008. Yet, the sector rewards its worker’s more handsomely than any other industry. Salaries will not be the primary agenda of this piece, but the inescapable truth is that according to GETI, oil and gas still offers unrivalled remuneration- enough to draw envious glances from all other energy sectors.

For professionals used to commanding six figure salaries, the prospect of moving around the energy spectrum comes with obvious draw-backs- no matter what the skillset. Workers used to earning £200,000 in oil will surely be reluctant to receive half of that number in power. Factor in that power is the next-highest-paying sector, with 50% of professionals reporting an increase in pay last year, and that 71% of Oil and Gas workers reported no increase in the same period, and the size of the gap needing to be bridged in the salary department becomes all too apparent.

He who pays the piper picks the tune and the lavish wealth in the industry will be enough to keep some workers dancing merrily for the foreseeable future. Will the wealth in the sector be enough exonerate its proprietors indefinitely though, if they fail to adjust to the recent workforce clamour for opportunities in automation and digitalisation? Probably not, and for these reasons companies are now proactively re-training their employees for roles in tech, such as programming and data analysis.

 

If you’re happy and you know it…

What is the general extent of unhappiness within the industry? The short answer is: alarmingly high if the 2018 GETI Report is to be considered. Remarkably, 72% of hiring managers reported that workers appeared less happy than in previous years and 67% of employees confirmed this by voting in the same way or reporting no change in their levels of happiness. Other murmurs coming from the sector though suggest that job security is stabilising, opportunities are increasing, and that working flexibility has improved.

Perhaps then, the oil and gas workforce is less fractious than it seems and the numbers believe the optimism of a sector returning to full health? It is hard to gauge the exact happiness of the sector right now, but a mass exodus does not seem forthcoming. The number of professionals looking for a move into another sector has dropped from 67% in 2017 to 44% in 2018- a trend that will satisfy those sat at the top of the ladder, deconstructing what is happening below.

To find out more about oil and gas workforce trends in 2018 and beyond, visit www.getireport.com to download your free copy of the GETI report.

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