Solving the industry recruitment challenge

Industries across the world are experiencing a coronavirus paralysis. Even the oil industry, which for many has been able to continue in relatively normal terms has had to adjust day to day processes, whether through furloughed staff or with increased safety measures.

Boris IvanovBoris Ivanov, Founder of GPB Global Resources B.V. discusses how this could be the ideal time for a retraining and recruiting revolution to secure a pipeline of fresh talent.

A changing landscape

Covid-19 has forced oil firms to significantly change their operations, with many forced to put staff on furlough and the majority having a large percentag of employees now working from home.

Global megatrends such as internationalisation, technological advancements and the energy transition, along with black swan events like Covid-19, are transforming the world of work, changing the skills which people need and creating completely new areas of expertise. Whilst the industry goes through a severe ‘downturn’, the coming months are also an opportune time for firms to invest in training opportunities, to retool existing employees for a rapidly changing landscape, and to address their recruitment strategies.

Technical skills are now needed more than ever

The UK oil and gas industry needs to attract 25,000 workers over the next six years, including 4,500 in brand new roles in areas like automation and data science according to Skills Landscape 2019 – 2025 report from industry training body OPITO.

Globally, technological solutions are being applied across all oil operations from geological software and seismic data analysis, to well imaging that sends visual and ultrasound imaging from hundreds of meters below. This has made previously remote production sites much safer. Robots now inspect the inner surfaces of pipelines and drones patrol oil fields, which cut emergency response-times and allow for rapid inspection of many locations at once.

These applications are becoming vital to oil companies seeking to modernise their processes, improve cost efficiencies and pull ahead of the competition. Throughout the oil industry Covid-19 is driving an increasing need for process automation as companies adapt operations to adhere to social distancing requirements. As the pandemic continues, it is likely that social distancing measures will become standard practise for the foreseeable future and oil companies would do well to invest in automation technologies now, allowing for improved remote working going forward.

Reskilling is an investment

Expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced technologies require unique skillsets and training and recruitment programmes are beginning to reflect this. During Covid-19, these tools will be particularly beneficial to employees who have been put on furlough, or those whose workloads have been reduced. With many people reporting to have lost a sense of direction during lockdown, having a means to study and increase knowledge and skills could increase motivation, connectivity and engagement.

Bolstering a strong digital skills programme and investing in employee development will have both immediate and future benefits. Not only will an engaged and technically advanced workforce help to propel firms forward in the digital age, it will empower people to work in new ways and attract a new generation of employees incentivised by cutting edge technologies.

Attracting a new generation

The recruitment of the next generation of workers has long been a challenge for the oil and gas industry. During this ‘downturn’, firms should reassess their recruitment strategies, as it will be vital to secure a pipeline of fresh talent to create a robust workforce for the challenges ahead.

As well as implementing new digital technologies, businesses should focus on communicating the training offered within the company. The next generation of workers have different value sets and reports have shown that young people are more attracted to employers that offer solid upskilling and development opportunities rather than big salaries alone. The way in which the workforce wants to learn and develop new skills is also changing and training methods need to reflect this i.e. using simulation and augmented reality as a learning method.

Environmental concerns have gained attention as companies struggle to communicate their ethical values, programmes and performance around sustainability. Oil businesses are becoming more transparent on their environmental and ESG objectives, as well as on transitioning to a low carbon world. With many graduates attracted to roles at renewable energy companies, recruitment teams at gas and oil firms should highlight the increasing collaborative opportunities available between new and traditional energy forms, as the entire sector faces tighter regulations and increased pressure from investors, politicians and society.

 Out of adversity comes opportunity

Whilst it is too soon to tell what the outcome of the pandemic will be and when some form of normality will resume, the oil and gas skills landscape will be very different by 2025.

Despite the sector battling tight budgets and market volatilities, oil and gas companies need to be forward thinking rather than adopt a wait-and-see approach to weather the storm of the pandemic and prepare for a challenging new landscape. The future success of the industry will depend on reskilling existing employees for the new digital age and redefining recruitment strategies to attract future talent.

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