Due to being the fifth and fourth largest producer of oil and gas respectively, Canada has been providing hundreds of thousands of jobs to people from across the globe for decades, fueling its own economy in the process. The last 3 years has seen over $65 billion taken out of Canada’s oil and gas industry due to a decline in capital investment and plummeting crude oil prices, resulting in extreme cost-cutting, mass job losses and the cancellation of dozens of projects. Sixty-five percent of oil and gas companies have reduced their staff, resulting in approximately 100,000 workers being made redundant.
Many skilled oil and gas workers have relocated abroad or to new states in search of work, not only due to redundancy, but also to the collapse of oil and gas training programs which could have provided them with the retraining for related jobs. Any new investment, whether project- or technology-related has therefore followed them. Job creation in this sector has been tight throughout Canada.
’The suicide rate in Alberta climbs 30% in wake of mass oil patch layoffs’ CBC News, December 2015
‘Saskatchewan, another energy-dependent region, has a higher rate, and it’s seen 19% more suicides this year’ The Guardian, December 2015
By the end of 2015, requests to the Calgary Distress Centre for counselling services had increased by 80% according to counsellor, David Kirby (CBC News, 2015). He claims the issues people are facing are vast, including substance abuse, financial collapse, anxiety, depression and relationship conflict. For those lucky enough to still be in employment, longer working hours are causing high levels of stress and fears that complaints will result in their lay-off too.
According to the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the oil and gas crisis in Scotland has “critically undermined rig safety, as workers fear reporting issues in case it results in job loss, causing serious health and safety implications – and there is fear a similar issue could be uncovered in the Canadian industry. As in Canada, workers are facing redundancy, shift pattern changes, wage reductions and loss of colleagues, and are being expected to take on their work.
We caught up with David Kirby recently to talk about the impact of job loss on mental health, how job loss can affect the family unit, and the work of the Calgary Distress Centre.
“In general our agency has seen about a 15% increase in service use over the past two years that we relate to the recession and impacts of it in the energy sector in Calgary. Certainly, we’ve had many more calls related to resources for emergency financial assistance to pay for rents, mortgages, utility bills, and even to put food on the table. The amount of suffering created by the recession and sector slowdown in Calgary and across our province has been unfathomable. Anecdotally, we can say that this is certainly the worst we ever seen it locally.”
Commenting on how the Distress Centre helps those facing job loss to cope, David said:
“In general we encourage people to reach out and talk to someone (i.e. our 24-hour crisis lines) when they’re feeling stressed about their future. We know that the sooner people reach out for help, the more likely the psychological impacts can be lessened. We encourage people affected by job loss to use their support system, focus on what they can control, develop an action plan for creating some positive change, and use the time to evaluate their values, priorities, and focus time and energy on self-care.
Many people find the prospect of having to ‘start over’ very much intimidating and difficult to cope with. We often encourage people to use the time to reconnect with their values and reconsider other hopes and dreams they may have had at earlier points in their lives, essentially trying to turn a negative into a positive.”
“Unless you have strong mediatory factors in place – such as good supervisors and HR support, chronic stress can be very negative, not just for the individual but also the organisation.”Margaret Crichton, Managing Director of People Factor Consultants (PFC)
Fortunately, the Canadian oil and gas industry is forecast to recover this year. Employment will grow steadily between 2017 and 2020 as new investment is placed in projects including a large two-train LNG facility in British Columbia. Market prices will increase from US$40 per barrel to US$71 with profits reaching 2010’s level of $13 billion by 2021. This is clearly positive, but because of the effects of the recent downturn, employers should put preventative measures in place and provide support for those showing signs of stress.
‘’5,200 wells are expected to be drilled across the country this year, an increase of 975 wells projected in November’’ Calgary Herald
Downturn relocations, baby-boomer retirements and technological advancements are causing an urgent need to appeal to younger workers from across the globe. With recent mental health campaigns such as Canada’s, ‘Not Myself Today’ and England’s, ‘Time To Change’ the younger generation are becoming more aware of its potential impact, explaining their greater likelihood to take part. They are also expecting a more open approach to mental health, demanding their employers account for this. Therefore, oil and gas companies should act, not only to attract new workers, but to give much needed support to their current ones.
When you’re living with mental illness, external circumstances that would normally be stressful for anybody are even more stressful. Job loss and unemployment certainly fall into that category. When faced with such a scary situation, it is more important than ever to make sure you’re using healthy coping mechanism, sticking to a routine as much as possible and staying productive, maintaining any treatment and also seeking additional help if necessary. Counseling and therapy can be beneficial in particularly difficult situations, especially as a supplement to other treatment methods and self-care.
Chelsea Ricchio, Communications Manager,Healthy Minds Canada
In recent years, there have been examples of the industry becoming more aware of mental health and its importance, Continue reading “Mental Health in the Oil & Gas Industry”
Since the employment market in the oil, gas and energy industry is suffering from a lack of demand at the moment, surprisingly a candidate-led trend has emerged where the desired talent is still in a good position to land the top industry roles. There are still a number of companies which are hiring, regardless of the overall view that “There are no jobs”, the difference is that; these organizations are only looking for what they classify as “top talent” and candidates that fully match a job specification. However, this top talent only wants to work under certain conditions, as in every market, they are aware of “supply vs demand” and know that people with desirable skills are in short supply as people exit the industry or sit tight in their current roles. The aim of this article is to demonstrate how to engage the most talented professionals based on the results we have from our Talent Insight Index 2016 survey on what aspects of an employment package is most attractive to energy professionals. These insights could form the basis of a more compelling job offer that is appealing enough to pique the interests of these professionals when confidence in job security is very low. If you are looking for a way to improve your CV in order to highlight your professional skills as top talent you can access CV formatting tips and download the a CV/Resume template on our online employment resources page.
The Talent Insight Index 2016 research has highlighted loyalty as a key factor to retain and develop talent. This can also apply to hiring new talent based on your existing employees’ loyalty.
Locating top talent that will want to be a part of your organization can be really hard to do, especially if your current employees won’t recommend it even in a downturn.
The first thing to consider when positioning vacancies as top oil, gas and energy job offers is having your other employees loyal and happy enough to talk about their “amazing job”, and recommending the roles to likely great candidates, or ex-colleagues whether online or through word of mouth.
Having a job requirement that makes reference to testimonials from current employees can motivate the talent you seek to apply for the position in the first place. If your current employees share their positive perceptions of the company, the potential candidate will be more persuaded to apply.
Loyalty to the company is usually a good signal, however this should not diminish the importance of the basic pay/salary package offered by organizations to attract employees and contractors.
In the Petroplan survey, respondents clearly state that basic pay is the single most important factor.
This is the same across all oil, gas and energy employment types, ages and regions of work.
As part of the Talent Insight Index 2016, we look at what the workforce ranks as the most important benefits to include in an offer of employment. To download the full findings of the Talent Insight Index sign up here: https://www.petroplan.com/talent-insight-index-2016/
When talent that your company needs is looking for something more of a guarantee of job security than just basic salary, a broader benefits package illustrate the values of the business that will also have a role in their decision.
There is an opportunity to attract both contractors and permanent employees with a whole package approach with many workers having lost security, training and medical support.
In the United States, Petroplan provides oil, gas and energy recruitment capabilities nation-wide; with a focus on the Greater Houston area, the Gulf of Mexico and the Texas Shale Plays.
We particularly concentrate on exploration and production, midstream and downstream, LNG, oilfield services and manufacturing; and our core specialisms include Discipline Engineers, HSE, Project Management and Services, Subsea, Subsurface and Corporate roles such as Technical Sales, Support Functions, Finance, HR and IT.
The full range of recruitment services are available through us, from executive search and contingency recruitment for direct hire, to contractor recruitment, mobilization and pay rolling.
The results of Petroplan’s Talent Insight index 2016 shows us that the top talent that the industry requires still values benefits such as length of contract, healthcare, training, holiday allowance or flights and bonus.
The order and importance of these benefits can vary, so we have created an ideal job specification for the US region “savvy top talent” that the industry is needing.
A review of the employment environment in the energy sector by Petroplan has found that, despite a major contraction in the value of the energy employment market over the past two years, global oil prices are now around the level where demand for talent looks set to pick up again.
Respondents from thirty-five organisations from across the major global oil and gas hubs participated in the survey, the aim of which was to gain insight from the industry’s employers on the prospects for recovery, and how this would impact on hiring in the near future.
Contract staff are likely to be in the vanguard of any recovery, with over two-thirds of respondents expecting greater use of contractors, bringing with them the flexibility and cost control which are critical in the current business environment. The use of Western expat contractors – long seen as a mainstay of the oil and gas industry – looks set to decline however as lower-cost local talent upskills and nationalisation targets take effect.
Activity is expected to pick up on onshore rigs first (in the US, then Middle East, Asia and Africa), followed by shallow water projects. Experienced technical talent, as well as those with a combination of technical and financial skills, look set to be most in demand in any recovery. Mechanical and chemical engineers, project managers and IT experts were among the shortage roles cited in the survey.
If anything, the oil price downturn since mid-2014 has increased the demographic challenge the industry faces, with experienced middle managers laid off and millennials put off entering the industry. While two thirds of respondents recognise the challenge as a major obstacle to growth, there was a feeling that multi-skilling and up-skilling the existing workforce will help to address it.
Rory Ferguson, CEO of Petroplan, said: “After a very challenging couple of years, our review reflects a cautious optimism for the future among energy employers. This is feeding through into hiring strategies that are focussed to a greater degree on cost efficiency and flexibility – but not at the expense of quality”.
“Something that came across very strongly from the review is that, whilst employers want to fill roles quickly, they also want to find the right candidate in terms of technical and business culture fit. Reconciling these two is where specialist recruiters such as Petroplan play a key role, even more so with the reduction of internal recruitment teams in many organisations”.
Full findings and analysis from the ‘Energy Talent Explorer Review’ can be found at: https://www.petroplan.com/about/energy-talent-explorer-review/
“There is a culture of resiliency in the Canadian oil patch, and people tend to pride themselves on their ability to find solutions in tough times. This could translate into heightened pressure on workers to keep their emotions under control and to themselves” Alberta Oil
The oil and gas industry is a high-pressure environment compared to many others, with stressful long hours requiring constant alertness set in isolated locations. With mistakes costing lives, workers can feel overwhelmed yet unable to express themselves. Weeks away from home and the people they feel comfortable around can enhance these feelings, building up until their mental health deteriorates. Being able to share thoughts and feelings with employers due to worry about what they will say to- and about- them, as well as how people may act toward them can also hinder their likelihood to seek help. In many cases, support is not available even if it pursued.
‘’Only employers and employees working together can make the changes that are fundamentally needed’’ Michael Kirby,
Partners for Mental Health
Part of the problem is in identifying mental illnesses. Not only for employees questioning their own mental states, but for employers unsure of what to do when they notice issues and knowing how to cope. With mental illness costing the Canadian economy $51 billion annually, effective support should be given to- or put in place by companies, not only reducing this figure, but providing employees with the help they need.
‘’Whether we’re managers, human resources, union reps or even co-workers, most of us don’t have the training or the knowledge about how to help someone. They don’t know where to begin, they don’t know where to apply limited resources or time. And so, they’re not sure where to get started’’
Mary Ann Baynton, Mindful Employer Canada
Fortunately, there are various mental health charities raising awareness among employees and companies alike. Not Myself Today, a campaign run by Partners for Mental Health has already had over 320 companies and organizations take part. The campaign aims to promote mental health within these places, creating a ‘safe, open and supportive work environment’, ‘reducing stigma’ and giving employees a, ‘better understanding of one’s own mental health’. They’ve seen much success, with 93% of companies stating the campaign increased mental health awareness, 89% claiming it started an open dialogue about mental health among employees and 88% agreeing it raised awareness of ready-available mental health resources. 78% also agreed it has helped to create a more understanding and supportive work environment. This shows how beneficial a mental health charity can be. It also suggests how duplication of this campaign across the oil and gas industry could be effective too.
The fact these charities and campaigns are needed highlight their importance – not enough is being done to combat mental health issues. It is estimated that improved treatment of depression could grow Canada’s economy by as much as $32.3 billion annually, and for anxiety, by up to $17.3 billion (The Conference Board of Canada). This impact is huge and shows the benefits for companies and its employees. Making use of mental health charities can clearly have a positive impact, and where possible, companies should put additional support in place.
‘’The reality is, in our post-modern economy, many Canadians in the workplace aren’t lifting heavy things anymore. What they’re valued for is their minds. And we need to do more to protect and promote the health of people’s minds in the workplace, because it’s when people get into trouble with their thinking and their feeling that it interferes with their ability to be productive, to be collegial, and to be at their best in terms of their functioning’’
David Goldbloom, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chairman of Masdar, made the opening keynote address and extended his warm welcome to all in attendance. He spoke of how the summit had become the, ‘premier destination for championing sustainability and championing tangible and real results’. This is certainly true, as the last 10 years has not only seen the introduction of solar and wind power into emerging markets, but also the reduction of its production and maintenance costs, by one third and one half respectively. Though Jaber expressed hope for continued renewable success, he emphasized that, ‘oil and gas will remain critical drivers of the global economy for decades’ and that, ‘there is more benefit in leveraging both new and traditional forms of energy by integrating them’ rather than trying to reach 100% renewable energy usage.
The four-day event comprised various exciting and innovative talks, events and showcases that enlightened and inspired. Always a crowd-pleaser are the live demonstrations of the latest products and this year was no different. At the Sustainable Transport event for example, exhibits included fuel cell cars, robotic parking and LPG Powered Vehicle that certainly impressed. New product announcements included air to water generators from Maghdeem Contracting which work by extracting humidity from the air, floating solar panels from Nemo and the SAM Bridge Environmental Data Acquisition System by ISEO that can be used as hardware for environmental systems such as weather sensors and analysers. It all looked very technical.
91% of exhibitors were satisfied with the World Future Energy Summit 2017’
Talks of particular interest to us included, ‘Carbon Capture and Storage – a critical part of the future energy mix’, ‘Energy Transitions for Oil Producing Regions’ and ‘Disrupting the transportation model’. In the former talk, John Scowcroft (Executive Adviser at the Global CCS Institute) discussed the worrying effects of climate change but how carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can enable oil recovery and stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. With many Middle Eastern countries aiming to enact CCS schemes with the possibly of worldwide uptake, this has the potential to reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions drastically. In the latter talk, Dr Andreas Dietrich Kopp (Lead Transport Economist at The World Bank’s Sustainable Development Network), Tim Karlsson (Executive Director at International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy) and Tom Zhao (General Manager at BYD) discussed the future of travel. They believe electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells will eventually replace oil-based options and that transport companies especially should be wary of this in terms of future innovations. Lastly, in, ‘Energy Transitions for Oil Producing Regions’ El Hadi Jazairy (a research scientist at MIT School of Architecture and Planning) examined how various political, financial and environmental crises have placed energy as a top concern for many national leaders. He particularly looked at how geography impacts oil infrastructure and what can be done to benefit both.
In true, ‘World Future Energy Summit’ style, some key decisions were also announced. Saudi Arabia stated they would be investing approximately $50 billion (Dh183.50 billion) in renewable energy schemes such as wind and solar. They hope by 2023 to generate close to 10 gigawatts of power from these sources, considerably cutting their carbon footprint. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) itself will be investing Dh600 billion into renewable energy to appease growing energy demands in a sustainable way. India announced plans for a 175 gigawatt renewables addition by 2022 which led to much discussion and private meetings between potential partners such as Masdar, Dewa, AVAADA Energy and Mytrah Energy Limited. Other plans included Masdar’s acquisition of a 25% stake in the offshore floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland which is located in the North Sea and will power 20,000 homes from late 2017. Masdar and Bee’ah also agreed to construct a 300,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant in Sharjah.
96% of delegates were satisfied with the World Future Energy Summit 2017
So how could these decisions affect Petroplan? Though one may worry about the increase in investment of renewables in the Middle East, we do not see the oil and gas industry declining anytime soon and consider the evolution of renewable energy as a great opportunity for our candidates. Lastly, as stated in our celebratory post, ‘The Oil & Gas industry – the past 40 years, the current market and a look to the future’, the oil and gas industry remains incredibly lucrative as globally the need for oil especially is increasing. We are therefore certain that we will see continued success for the foreseeable future.
Recently there have been numerous complaints from people about so-called companies asking them to pay to apply to jobs.
Online communication on recruitment from Petroplan, if any, would be sent by Petroplan only official e-mail domain of petroplan.com.
This fraudulent practice seems to be extremely popular in the oil, gas and energy recruitment field.
The modus operandi of the party or parties behind the scam is to pose as Petroplan recruitment department and charges job seekers certain amounts of money to secure job opportunities with Petroplan.
As Petroplan is committed to ethical recruitment, in an effort to raise awareness of good practices and to help people avoid frauds, we have put together a list of some non-legitimate practices and ways to detect them, report them and avoid them in the future.
In order to detect a fake or “chargeable” job you can look for the signs and take the below precautions:
a. Watch out for the signs. Poor spelling and grammar is usually a good indicator that it’s a scam. If you were promised a job in a different country, you ought to find out from the embassy of that country how much a visa costs and confirm with the employer the applications process since the company offering you the job would normally resolve this for you.
b. Check the legitimacy of the company. There are a lot of ways to do this – performing a simple Google search on the name of the company should bring up a number of legitimate results such as LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter account, company Tax page, job-board websites listings, possibly a company registration page and/or mentions of the company from other people.
c. Check that applications are submitted on the company website. There are a lot of so called “recruiters” who ask you to send an e-mail to their Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account(s) and reply with a charge to apply to various jobs they advertise. Legitimate companies will always have an on-line free application process. All applications should be processed through a company channel such as via LinkedIn, an industry Job Board or their company website.
If you do come across a fraudulent job offer, you can follow some steps below:
a. Check on the advice forums – websites like https://www.safer-jobs.com/ are a good place to start
b. Report them to the police – a good way is reporting through the Fraud and CyberCrime Reporting Centre – https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
c. Contact the official channels – contact the company they claim to be working with and report their activity and practices with screenshots and the e-mails they sent you.
In order to avoid these scams in the future:
a. Make sure you only apply to legitimate companies – check if you’re unsure
b. Never post your personal information publicly online – do not reply with your e-mail address or post documents in comments of a social media post; these are ways that scammers obtain personal information.
c. Pay attention on social media – don’t like or comment on a post that claims that someone will “review” your profile or comment with your e-mail to posts advertising hundreds of jobs at once. You should check if the profile that is posting this has a decent amount of connections and if anyone reported anything about them.
In conclusion, when applying for jobs online, make sure the company and applications process is legitimate, look out for the signs, ask for advice if you’re unsure and report anyone who charges you to apply to jobs.
While Chrysaor’s chief executive Phil Kirk has stated that no job losses will occur at this time. This move will cause worry for those involved. For employees that transfer, adjusting to the new company culture and ways of working could cause stress, worry and health issues.
Currently, in the oil and gas industry, mental health issues are one of the less publicised risks facing workers. Though much focus is put on physical health and ensuring superior completion of training certificates, less focus has been on tracking the mental health of workers in the industry. Positive mental health often takes the form of people displaying good self-esteem, fulfilling relationships and displaying productivity, and more specifically in relation to oil and gas workers, knowing how to cope and deal with difficult and often hazardous situations.
‘’Psychosocial risks that are linked to the experience of work-related stress have been reported to be the second most prevalent work-related health problem, affecting 22% of workers in the European Union’’ International Association of Oil & Gas Producers
‘’Work-related mental ill health costs the UK economy up to £26 billion every year through lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity’’ MIND
And it’s not just those working on-site in the oil and gas industry that are affected. 2015 and 2016 saw many company mergers and acquisitions across various industries including oil and gas, leading to culture changes, job losses and uncertainty for those working in more back-office roles. For example, in April 2015, The acquisition of the oil and gas exploration firm BG for £36.4bn, resulted in over 10,000 job losses across its company in a bid to improve company efficiency and reduce its expenditure.
There are companies in the energy sector which are already tackling mental health amongst its workers, that have publicised the rewards for taking this approach. One such company is EDF Energy. Due to losing £1.4m in productivity because of mental health related issues, EDF Energy created the Employee Support Programme (ESP). This provides cognitive behavioural therapy to employees who feel they need it, training to managers to detect ill mental health and giving them further support on how to deal with employee issues that may arise with changes within the company. The ESP has resulted in a vast improvement in productivity and job satisfaction has risen steadily since its establishment. A high number of employees have also happily returned to work after mental health related absences, with an extremely low relapse rate. Similarly, Maersk have started to provide performance enhancement training for employees in their Drilling unit. This comprises of training and team-based exercises focusing on team-building, mental health and operational skills. EDF and Maersk are clearly taking strides in employee welfare, reducing the potential dangers of harm to their employees and their companies.
Providing ongoing training related to emotional intelligence and how to deal with stressful situations could also be beneficial, as new methods of working or unexpected events can create uncertainty should issues arise. This is already embraced by the aviation industry, where safety issues can cost hundreds of lives, a focus on human factors has taken prevalence. These include providing pilots with thorough training in the technology used so that human error in emergencies is minimised and in cases of emergencies, knowing best practices to keep everyone on board as calm as possible (including the pilot). This allows pilots to logically think through their options instead of the frantic rush of terror that may strike everyone else. Therefore, in the oil and gas industry, providing continuous updates on safety procedures and support workshops concerning how to deal with extreme and dangerous events could be beneficial to employees by lowering their stress levels and increasing their knowledge of what to do in those situations.
A further way companies could promote mental health is by testing for psychological resilience, as suggested by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers. This could involve a monthly health questionnaire, with support provided where needed and the provision of resilience training in times of extreme stress.
Lastly, investing in health-related phone applications and online resources that provide monitoring, diagnosis and treatment could allow workers to get the help they need more efficiency, saving the company costs in terms of productivity and health related absences. Omada Health’s, ‘Prevent’ for example, incorporates an activity tracker and personal health coach that gives advice on how to deal with potential job pressures and what help to seek when required. Health apps that provide video visits with doctors can be a further comfort, as shown by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. They provided 325,000 video-visits to over 100,000 veterans, reducing psychiatric admissions by 24%. Technologies continue to be developed, such as, ‘Ellie’ which will be able to improve mental illness diagnoses through better factor measurement. As apps and online resources can be used in even the remotest of locations, these results are astounding and show the real value in their use.
‘’60% of consumers are willing to have a video visit with a physician through a mobile device and 88% are willing to share personal data with their doctor to find new treatments’’ PWC
There are many benefits for promoting mental health within the oil and gas industry. Firstly, making employees more aware of the mental health issues they may face can reduce the stigma associated with expressing feelings within this environment, allowing more of those suffering to come forward. Providing support and techniques for coping with mental health issues could also reduce the effects of them too, such as lower productivity or a reduction in physical health. This clearly benefits the industry, leading to greater job performance, staff retention and creation of a more positive environment for example. Team building exercises such Maersk’s can develop group cohesion, leading to lower rates of loneliness. Providing therapy as EDF Energy does can give help to those who need it most. Phone apps have the potential to reduce the number of mental health related incidences.
Petroplan looks forward to seeing practical solutions to helping employees remain well and welcome the growth in technology that could prove a great resource for both office teams and workers in remote locations.
The downstream oil and gas sector is often seen as benefiting from the downturn in the oil price, thanks to the fall in the cost of feedstock. As Petroplan’s Huw Rothwell, Regional Director and Andrew Duffy Senior Consultant, LNG and Downstream explain, however, when seen from a recruitment perspective the situation is more nuanced than it seems.
With the U.S. refining industry operating at around 85% capacity, the outlook for recruiters appears very positive. Planned maintenance is increasing, plant turnarounds are increasing – and both require skilled personnel. The situation appears even rosier for petrochemicals companies, where more in-demand speciality products continue to get high margins – and there is a need for a lot of new construction work.
For the LNG industry the current need is for engineering hires to get new projects off the ground. This is likely to shift in three to four years when these projects move into the operational phase – the average LNG project in the US requires 2– 6,000 personnel during the construction phase. Looking further into the future, the recruitment situation in LNG will depend on the scale of take up of LNG as a fuel – particularly for transport .
So, demand for people is strong in the downstream recruitment market – the challenge is that supply does not match this demand. Downstream companies don’t just want an engineer with general experience, they want an engineer with specific project experience, or specific technology experience. This is the barrier that those trying to re-skill and make the jump from the upstream sector are coming up against – general experience in the oil and gas industry is not enough.
The demographic issue facing the industry is well-documented – a lack of graduates in relevant disciplines coming in, combined with a generation of experienced workers due to retire. Where we are seeing scarcity in the downstream sector at present, however, it is in mid-career candidates – those with between 10 and 20 years’ experience in the industry. These candidates have been in the industry long enough to build up experience, but are still young enough in their careers to be open to a move.
In spite of the buoyancy of the downstream sector, salaries and day rates have been impacted by the oil price context. For integrated companies, remuneration for those on the downstream side has been hit by what is happening in the upstream part of the business.
Petroplan is best known in the upstream sector, but has always supported projects across the entire supply chain of oil and gas. We are currently increasing our downstream capabilities to reflect the needs of our clients – in fact, we ourselves are hiring in order to meet demand.
With the uncertain geopolitical climate and supply risks around the word, the oil price will inevitably rebound – and we must plan for that. So, while we are investing in downstream as a growth area, we are maintaining our long-standing relationships and client base in upstream and mid-stream too.
 Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Although some technical expertise are scarce, we find the toughest part of securing the right talent is not only assessing their technical skills, but finding their motivations and the softer skills essential to be successful in communicating their knowledge and negotiating solutions whether the roles are at a software vendor or in-house within an IT organisation.
The type of organisation and development environment is normally a good indicator for recruiters in finding the appropriate soft skills that provide the framework for a software developer, solutions architect, applications engineer or web designer to perform well for that business.
Web and software consultancies that work for the US oil and gas sectors offer a great opportunity for early and mid career professionals to gain a broad knowledge and are ideal for those that thrive on deadlines, problem solving and inventing solutions. However, working in a corporate environment for one client throws up different challenges as the people networks maybe more formal and involve working across a matrix of departments and stakeholders.
The market demand for software engineers is not as high as it was before the decline in the oil price that began 24 months ago, however, positions do become available. Corporate recruiters at these organisations are often looking for professionals who are performing a similar role already and may look for those currently working in the industry, however, technical skills are very transferable in the digital sector so candidates that can demonstrate successful projects completed at vendors to the corporate sector will be looked upon favourably.
With pressure on businesses in the energy sector to deliver cost and lean efficiencies there has been a noticeable increase in web start ups and specialist consultancies to whom projects are outsourced. The established enterprises where pressures from governance can slow down some innovation projects see the benefit of working with more flexible players especially on SaaS product developments.
These small to medium organisations offer candidates some really exciting opportunities but their focus is on delivering brilliant and unique solutions for the clients not scouring the market for the best in talent. These organisations build up great relationships with recruitment agencies like Petroplan as we work as their people partners with our expertise in identifying and engaging the right talent with the aptitudes to succeed in a flexible work-culture.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of communications skills in technology environments whether that’s with colleagues in larger enterprises or with clients. So what do we mean?
For example, applying tact assertively to ensure a client whether internal or external to your team is getting the solution they need is really critical. This is in ensuring you can describe and agree on specifications to manage expectations that get the project completed in an acceptable time period.
Empathy is also really important. Being able to see a situation from the end-user’s perspective will involve active listening. Non technical users often won’t find articulating their own needs very easy or may not know the right questions to ask
Being flexible will also build trust with owners of a project, requirements will shift but the confidence built during the scoping period will also be invaluable in insuring against scope creep that may put a project over budget and time.
If you work to deliver projects that have a screen based presence, such as desk top applications or mobile interfaces, the ability to think visually and demonstrate what an application will look like is useful to confirm if the application will realise the end user’s goals.
Finally, a handle on project management is a must. Even if a role does not involve overall responsibility for a web project, demonstrating how you have experience of prioritizing tasks and dealing with the deadlines of others will set you apart as a candidate, in medium size organisations – where project management is not a department but a way of thinking.
If you are a job seeker then Petroplan is a good link to the less obvious opportunities as many tech businesses have cut back on in-house resourcing, likewise as an employer we can put you in touch with the networks of active and passive candidates quickly. As we have already outlined, to us the culture at an organisation and its potential fit with a candidate’s motivations and softer skills will have been assessed in advance of any vacancy specific conversations.
Although we have a deep understanding of the markets in Houston, Boston and Dallas, as key oil and gas hubs, our network uses online sourcing too to keep in touch with the best talent that cares about their online brand and social networks. The kind of talent that is perfect for the next generation of web challenges in the energy sector. If that sounds like you or you are looking for your next team player get in touch. Josh Chavez is a specialist recruiter for web development roles you can get in touch on 832-779-4602