Oil and Gas Recruiters Talk Staff Shortage

Oil and Gas Recruiters Talk Staff Shortage
TMM Recruitment, Kaye/Bassman and Petroplan all have their say.

There’s a dearth of immediately available candidates.

That’s what Amanda McCulloch, the chief executive of TMM Recruitment – which works with employers in the north-east of Scotland and is predominantly focused on business support functions and onshore engineering and trades roles - told Rigzone when asked if there is a staff shortage in the oil and gas industry.

“Resourcing at short notice or for temporary assignments is particularly difficult and if a long-term contract role can be offered as staff, we’re encouraging employers to consider this option,” McCulloch said.

“All our recruitment specialisms are reporting candidate shortages and with more job opportunities than people have experienced in the last five to seven years, salary expectations have shifted upwards,” the chief executive added.

When asked which workers are particularly in demand, McCulloch noted that recruiters are among the most sought-after professionals right now, adding that “that’s a reflection of higher recruitment volume in an environment of low candidate availability”.

“Reflecting a renewed focus on compensation and training there’s a positive shift in enquiries for people with this specialist knowledge,” McCulloch said.

The TMM Recruitment representative highlighted that there’s a shortage across IT disciplines from software developers, business analysts, data science and cyber specialists to system specific technical experts.

“Contracts, tendering and commercial advisors are in high demand and in accountancy and finance it is treasury, tax, compliance, corporate finance and cost controller roles that are challenging to fill,” McCulloch said.

“It’s also worth noting the sustained demand for marketing, communications and environmental professionals since before the end of the pandemic. At the executive level I’m working on board appointments directly associated with the energy transition, diversification and commercializing technology in PE backed SMEs,” McCulloch added.

McCulloch noted that candidates are increasingly interested to know more about the energy transition and employers working in renewables.

“For a few, this is the sole area of focus for their job search but, in our experience, the attractiveness of oil and gas has not diminished,” McCulloch said.

“It is perceived as an industry with an integral role to play in the transition to net zero and enhancing security of energy supply,” McCulloch added.

The TMM Recruitment representative also highlighted that, as the number of job vacancies continues to rise, more candidates are receiving multiple job offers and counteroffers have increased.

“This reactive tactic is unsustainable and a hint of what may lie ahead was reported in the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook, which revealed that a decreasing number of organizations (from 44 percent last quarter to 29 percent) are relying on wage increases to address the problem of hard-to-fill vacancies,” McCulloch said.

“Instead, the top response from 2,000 senior HR decision-makers was to upskill existing staff (41 percent),” McCulloch added.

Drastic Reduction In All Professional Roles

When asked if there is a staff shortage in the oil and gas sector, Christopher Melillo, the founder and managing partner of Kaye/Bassman’s Energy Practice, highlighted that total rig count in the U.S. (Lower 48) is at 501 with 485 of those being land rigs.

“This is less than half of our all-time peak around 1,400 rigs. This means a drastic reduction in all professional roles, specifically in drilling engineers and geoscience roles,” Melillo told Rigzone.

“There are still some sporadic needs for directional drillers and geo-steering professionals, but nothing that dictates any shortages of talent,” he said.

Melillo pointed out that the areas still needing experienced talent are in the field, specifically, roughnecks, rig hands, tool pushers, etc.

“Texas leads the Lower 48 with more than triple the amount of working rigs as compared to the number two area in need, New Mexico. Oklahoma, Louisiana follow next with North Dakota, Pennsylvania and the Mountain states trailing,” Melillo said.

The Kaye/Bassman representative noted that there are over 8,000 jobs in the Lower 48 in ‘Oil & Gas’ but added the majority of those are in data administration and back office oversight/admin roles.

“These positions are scattered across the U.S. with the concentration being in the larger hubs of corporate offices (Houston, Pittsburgh, Dallas, etc.),” Melillo said.

“These roles are in need of talent and this is where we are seeing the greatest shortfall of talent,” Melillo added.

Loss of Skills

Also asked if there is a staff shortage in oil and gas, Dean Greenwood, Petroplan’s EMEA recruitment director, replied that the global oil and gas industry has changed significantly in the past decade.

“While I wouldn’t say there is a current shortage of industry staff, the sector has experienced a loss of skills in recent years,” Greenwood told Rigzone.

“Due to an ageing workforce, many have opted for early retirement, and there has been a trend in professionals moving into other energy markets in the oil and gas downturn,” he added.

“From the period of 2014 to 2021, there were much less vacancies in the oil and gas sector due to low oil prices and owner operators placing projects on hold. In response, professionals have left the sector and moved to crossover industries showcasing rapid growth, such as renewables, mining, and life sciences,” Greenwood continued.

The Petroplan director also told Rigzone that, “while we are yet to see the true impact of this change and the oil and gas market resurgence still in its infancy, we are seeing oil and gas companies competing for the same talent pool”.

“This could eventually prove problematic for companies when securing the right talent,” he added.

“There is a demand for these workers to return to the oil and gas industry. Only time will tell if the talent that diversified into other markets will return,” Greenwood went on to say.

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com

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