1-Feb-06 2:00 PM  GMT  

An Industry in Need of a Makeover 

The global oil and gas business is facing an uphill struggle to attract and retain people, often due to the
negative image of its environmental and social performance and perceptions of a short-term cyclical
industry that fails to offer job security.

Jon Glesinger, managing director of Energy&Natural Resources at global recruitment group Norman Broadbent, says
one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed to attract the right kind of people is to make the industry look
more attractive.

“I think we have done a very poor job of communicating to the public in general just what this industry is all
about,”he comments.“I think the industry is not very good at letting people know it is not just about putting petrol in
your cars.”

A survey carried out by the recruitment group across 1000 people in the energy industry showed that predominantly
people within the business thought it a great place to work, and a long-term proposition that they savour as it is
technically challenging.

However, when the same group was asked about what people outside the business thought about the industry they
said the complete opposite—it is a bad place to go, has a hire-and-fire mentality, and is dirty and dangerous with a
poor safety record.

A major new report looking at the global issues surrounding recruitment and leadership in the upstream business,
produced by Norman Broadbent together with the UK´s Energy Institute and Deloitte, is due to be unveiled next

Glesinger says with fewer people coming out of universities with first-class degrees it typically means there are less
engineers. This applies to every sector, but particularly in the UK.
“In certain areas, such as geophysics, there are just very few people around with 10 to 15 years of experience,”he

He suggest that if 50% of the UK oil and gas workforce is going to retire in the next five to 10 years to be replaced by
people who have got 10 to 15 years´experience the industry will not only have fewer people overall but maybe also a
massive crisis in leadership.

“This could result in power shifts from big Western oil companies to those in Asia, India, Latin America and Africa,”he

Franklin Boitier, a manager with Total in Paris, says one the biggest recruitment challenges is overcoming the image
problem in what is so often perceived to be a dirty industry.

“We have to prove what we are doing all the time. When you go out onto the street and talk to people you convince a
lot of them of the value of our industry. You have to go out there and talk to the teachers and pupils in the
classroom,”he suggests.

Oil companies are beginning to recognise that globally they need to increase the pool of labour, as shuffling around
staff within a large organisation or poaching from competitors does nothing to solve the long-term overall problem.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers, which has unveiled a number of initiatives to attract and retain young people in
the upstream industry, recognises there is an urgent need to attract fresh blood to replace the large number of
professionals who will be retiring over the next decade.

In addition to the loss of personnel through retirement, the industry has recognised the effects of‘staff
rationalisation´programmes following the mergers among both major Western oil companies and contractors that
caused the global workforce to shrink from over a million in the mid-1980s to about half a million a couple of decades

“Globally there is a market shortage of skilled personnel and much of that is down to the ageing workforce, which is akey issue at the moment,”says Howard Kewney, Chevron´s human resources director in Aberdeen.

“As a global oil company we are always looking at how to meet tomorrow´s requirements. Today in Chevron our
average age is around 46 or 47. However, if you went back 20 years in the company it would have been much less
than that.”

Deloitte says the industry is facing a complex global problem, not so much created by an overall shortage of capable
people but more that they are located in the wrong places.

It suggests that to remedy this oil companies in particular should follow the lead of service companies, which take a
much more global approach.

Many service companies have taken bold steps over recent years to internationalise their operations and invest
heavily in recruitment and training.

“I think that when you look at where the oil price is today and where it looks like being in the future it will sustain
significant levels of activity on a worldwide basis,”says Michael Salter, chief operating officer of the Aberdeen-based
Abbot Group.

“I think we have an industry now that has got some confidence to go out and hire people the way it did in the 1980s.
However, it will still be a cyclical business, but maybe the cycles will be much longer and less steep than in the recent

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Source: Upstreamonline

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