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ImageAn inaugural Future Talent Summit brought together senior industry leaders to discuss the talent crisis facing the oil, gas and power sectors.

In the midst of one of the greatest periods of expansion in its history, the global oil and gas industry is facing a severe labour crunch. Years of lay-offs, an aging workforce and a decline in the number of skilled workers entering the industry is already causing increased costs, project delays and cancellations. The need for talent is potentially one of the greatest threats to industry expansion.The Summit, organized by CWC, an independent provider of energy analysis and information, represented a global community of industry experts and decision makers who met to discuss the global skills crisis facing the sector and find strategic and long term solutions to this very real problem.

Delegates came from around the world, representing a diversity of countries including the USA, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago, Angola, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, South Africa, Ghana and Egypt, to address the skill shortage in the global energy Industry.

Facts and Figures

The nature of the crisis, says CWC, is evidenced by the following facts and figures:

  • The average age of workers in the oil and gas industry is 49 – this is compared to in the 30s for other technology based industries.
  • An estimated 40% of the industry’s skilled professionals will reach retirement age by 2010.
  • There are not enough engineers to meet the demands of current projects - a shortfall of 10-15% is likely by 2010.
  • With a likely increase in conventional and nuclear power plants around the world, competition for the already stretched talent pool is likely to increase.

The shortage of experienced energy people is real because the industry is expanding quickly, said Frederik Rengers, CEO of Worldwideworker, one of the speakers at the event.

Citing key events in recent years, Rengers noted that in 1981 the drilling boom ended and oil became too cheap, leading to industry lay-offs and a remarkable period of consolidation. After 2004, cheap oil disappeared and world demand rose exponentially. By 2005 any ‘spare capacity of people’ was used up and, from 2006, companies started to recruit aggressively. In 2007, many people changed jobs leading to intensified recruitment in 2008.

So, what is actually happening?

According to Renger, whose company Worldwideworker provides HR services to the global energy industry, more graduates have been hired and trained and salaries and day rates have increased.

There are not enough engineers to meet the demands of current projects - a shortfall of 10-15% is likely by 2010.

Despite few people leaving the industry, people have been able to change jobs, improve their careers and earn faster promotions. Companies have made record profits while employees have had more choice in their career and location of work.

{mosimage}According to the CEO, today while "there is a short term capacity problem and recruitment is more difficult than three years ago, in general I think we are all experiencing the rebuilding and expansion of a healthy and exciting global industry."

Image of the Industry

One major drawback to recruiting talent into this sector, says Worldwideworker, is the increasingly negative image of working within the industry.

According to Renger, renewable energy now offers energy companies a unique opportunity to evolve into a renewable energy force. "The Oil Age has brought a lot of prosperity, health and environmental progress to the world and needs to continue to evolve and re-invent itself. Really embracing the Renewable Energy opportunities will help everybody, from Capital Investments to Image.

"Most registered job titles show a shift to mid stream and petrochemical candidates, says Renger, and include HSE Manager, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Finance & Administration, Geologist, Project Manager and Petroleum Engineer as well as executive level management roles.

There has been a globalization of mid-careers candidates and 10% of new registrations to his company in 2008 came from Nigeria.Photo: Courtesy of CWC

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