Oil, gas sector must join forces to tackle skills problem
The oil and gas industries in the Middle East region must collaborate more if it wants to tackle the skills shortage problem, said a recent work survey.
With the Middle East region still struggling to fill skilled positions, developing local content will be crucial to future success, according to "The Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey 2014" conducted by OilCareers.com and Air Energi.
Engineers are the scarcest commodity with more than half of participants identifying it as the most in-demand role followed by project manager, drilling, contract administrator and geologist, said the survey.
Air Energi CEO Duncan Gregson, said the oil and gas industry was powered by a highly mobile and skilled workforce. "Experienced professionals are extremely sought after, highly remunerated and are offered excellent benefits. The critical issue for the industry in 2014 will be retaining staff, which is one of the key drivers in budget-overspend and schedule delays," he noted.
"We must, as an industry, look to collaboration as a solution if we are to solve our on-going problems," he stated.
Other key findings in the survey include 58 per cent of respondents confirming they expect salaries to rise in 2014 and 50 per cent predicting that hiring rates for both permanent and contract positions will also increase.
About 69 per cent of those questioned believe that more must be done to promote the opportunities within the industry to younger generations.
OilCareers.com managing director Mark Guest said: “Furthermore, 2014 must be the year where the industry seriously looks at the investment it is making in securing the future workers for the industry. The millennial generation holds the key to the future success of the oil and gas industry – attracting and retaining them is essential.”
Three-quarters of the Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey respondents confirmed that their organisation offered internal training, although 29 per cent of these admitted that there was not a full selection of training available.
Guest pointed out that companies don’t have a good track record of collaborating with each other when it comes to addressing the root cause of the skills shortage.
"If we are going to see a real and positive change in the skills gap the industry as a whole must work together on the development of education, training and local content initiatives," he added.
In the Middle East the high demand for all disciplines across engineering verticals is expected to continue, especially for those with geology and geophysics backgrounds. Key to sustaining the future of the market, according to the findings, will be the development of local content through training.
Across the region the onshore LNG market continues to grow however project work and shale advancement elsewhere is making the competition for affordable talent fierce.
Guest said there has been a steady rise in the number of downstream requirements in the Middle East as the region looks to meet its own local energy demands.
"Onshore LNG remains a core market with a large number of projects ongoing. With over $200 billion of projects currently in play across the GCC, the demand for skilled workers will continue. Iraq continues to be an area of substantial growth, while a number of significant new projects in UAE means inter-regional competition will inevitably increase," he added.
Also highlighted in the findings is the on-going challenge surrounding staff retention as an anticipated increase in project activity in North America, East Africa and Australia begins to filter through.
Gregson said: “We are beginning to see projects being scrutinised for cost effectiveness and viability. At the moment we are operating in a healthy market, however the danger is always that a drop is just around the corner, which could be a major blow to industry training budgets which are, regrettably, often the first to be cut.”
Guest pointed out that the very nature of the work means that both OilCareers.com and Air Energi are immersed entirely in the oil and gas process.
"Through our work with operators and service companies we have built up strong links and a broad knowledge base that allows us to provide the industry with the most complete information when it comes to recruitment," he added.
The findings come in the revamped survey, the first of two to be released in 2014, that saw the two organisations collaborate to document the views of more than 500 professionals from across the supply chain and spanning every major region on the industry’s most pressing recruitment questions.
The "The Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey 2014 report also includes insight from OPITO chief executive, David Doig.