Smart Labor: Recruiting and Retaining Skilled Staff

Spectro Scientific

Smart Labor: Recruiting and Retaining Skilled Staff

The recruitment and retention of a skilled workforce is vital to any industry, but it is increasingly critical for the energy sector as it transitions to more sustainable technologies.
Hiring the right talent – and keeping it – will be essential to countries around the world looking to secure their energy supplies. So it falls upon energy providers to find a solution.
According to research conducted by Airswift, an international workforce solutions provider within the energy, process, and infrastructure industries, more than three-quarters of those working in the energy profession are considering a career switch within three years. Of those, most favor a change from traditional to renewable energy.
Crucially, Airswift’s Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report identified a growing shortage of technical skills across the energy industry, a conclusion which will come as no surprise to those struggling to recruit suitably skilled staff.
A decade or so ago, and certainly pre-Covid, the industrial workplace was dominated by craftspeople in their late 40s to early 60s who had a deep skillset but many opportunities to retire. 
Additionally, many companies cut back on apprenticeships and other training opportunities during previous recessions. The end result of these two factors was a shrinking talent pool that has left companies competing to hire the skilled staff they desperately need.

Competition From the Renewables Sector

Another area of impact is the global move towards sustainability in the industry. Most large companies now operate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies that have transformed the industrial landscape.
Along with significant price slumps in the past decade, the growing global ESG trend has pushed many skilled oil and gas industry professionals to move to other sectors, such as tech or renewables. Only some, if any, are moving in the opposite direction.
In addition, younger workers tend to associate the energy sector with heavy pollution and fossil fuels, dismissing the opportunities that arise. This is despite the efforts of organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API).
As a result, oil and gas companies are left competing for talent with their sector rivals and the clean energy industry. The energy transition in countries aiming for net-zero emissions in 2050 has provided ample opportunities for both new talent and existing energy industry employees to transfer their skills to the renewable energy sector.

An Increased Emphasis on Training

To develop the skilled workforce they need, corporations in the oil and gas sector are expected to place a greater emphasis on continuous training programs. This approach helps to develop existing staff and make internal promotion much more straightforward. 
Organizations concerned about their workforce and looking forward to investing in them will offer training programs to help them flourish and equip their workers for a better future.
This includes:
  • Creating customized training programs to help employees succeed in their roles and environments. 
  • Driving the move towards continual learning by encouraging leaders and testing alternative operational strategies. 
To retain valued staff, companies are also looking to establish an employee engagement road plan that mixes tested methodologies with more innovative, high-value implementations and to develop digital talent plans to help react to the latest technological advances.
These measures could help the oil and gas industry secure a brighter future by retaining employees and ensuring they develop the skills needed. However, training for the latest technologies is unlikely to increase staff loyalty by itself; the technology also needs to be in place.

A Smarter Labor Force is Looking to New Technology

This industry-wide technical skills shortage means all energy sectors are now more likely to seek those skills outside their company. But this raises serious questions about how they attract fresh talent to the industry while keeping the skilled employees they already have.
In 2019, before the Covid pandemic disrupted global industry trends, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) commissioned a survey to examine future workforce and employment trends in the oil and gas industry.
“Oil and Gas 4.0: Attracting the Workforce of the Future” polled 3,000 students and young professionals across ten countries representing a mix of major global economies. According to the study, only 44% of STEM millennials and Generation Z were interested in pursuing a career in oil and gas, compared to the 77% interested in working in technology-driven sectors. 
While students and young professionals are clearly drawn toward sectors in which technology plays an important role, the study revealed their perception that the oil and gas sector is not technology-driven.
Ultimately, salary is no longer the differentiator between working for one company over another. Wherever you work, the wage difference between one area of the country or another is not, by itself, sufficient to attract personnel away from their current position. Young staff, in particular, are getting similar pay wherever they go.
Anecdotally, we know that staff from different companies working in the same area are likely to socialize and compare notes on the technologies they are using. This is especially noticeable for personnel aged 25 to 34.
These younger workers tend to be extremely comfortable with the latest technologies and often look to be on the cutting edge of what’s available. This is a common theme, not just in the energy sector but across all industries – working with the latest tools is a career status symbol.
Staff measure the work culture by the tools provided to them by management – they prefer to work for a company that is looking forward, and they see the skills they will gain as highly transferable.
So, if your company has the latest equipment, that is seen as a major cultural benefit attractive to the workforce.


Understanding the emergence of this smart workforce is critical to retaining the staff and skills needed now and in the future.
This workforce wants to work with the latest tools continually, and in doing so, they become more valuable employees. 
An organization must invest in new tools and technologies consistent with everybody else to avoid losing staff to a competing organization in the same region that does that. However, companies that energetically bring new tools and technology on board are seeing immediate benefits in recruitment and retention.
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