Better opportunities for Oil & Gas Career-seekers for 2012


Global Retention Survey showed better career opportunities as the main factor behind oil and gas professionals seeking new jobs in 2012.

Energy professionals naming career opportunities as the main motivator for a job change was true for approximately:

  • 50 percent of professionals surveyed in Australia/Oceania
  • 57 percent of Canadian-based professionals
  • 57 percent of European-based professionals
  • 67 percent of respondents in the Middle East
  • 60 percent of South American-based professionals
  • 54 percent of respondents in the U.S.
  • 67 percent of Asian-based oil and gas professionals

Opportunity for better work/life balance ranked second among the reasons for workers seeking new jobs worldwide in 2012, with increased compensation ranking third among reasons cited for job changes.

A plurality (47 percent) of oil and gas professionals worldwide reported receiving between one and five calls from recruiters in the past six months. Worldwide, the most frequently contacted oil and gas professionals were in design and construction engineering, followed by geosciences and drilling specialties.

Hiring Plans for 2012

The U.S. oilfield service industry is experiencing a shortage of a wide range of oilfield service workers, from delivery drivers to executives, said Keith Bradley, managing director of recruitment process outsourcing at Kenexa.

The industry is facing a challenge in not only filling new job growth demand, but fighting attrition of the existing workforce as well. For every 100,000 jobs, there are roughly 75 to 80 percent experienced and qualified individuals to fill those roles.

“What we’re having to do is look outside the oil and gas space to companies that have similar skill sets,” said Bradley. These industries are the types that require mechanical aptitude, or skills found in a manufacturing environment, such as the aerospace and tire industries.

Oil and gas companies also are seeking workers that are flexible to working in cold, outdoor environments, such as U.S. shale plays, and working on processes that can’t be stopped until completed. These roles are “physically demanding and require heavy lifting.”

Recently, oilfield service companies have been recruiting former members of the military. These professionals have skill sets in demand for oilfield services, including experience in working with explosives. The recruitment from other industries will continue until there’s a downturn, Bradley noted.

In addition to attracting the overall number of professionals, the industry also faces a battle in recruiting and retaining younger staff. Many of these workers “don’t want to start at the bottom and work up and want 40-50 hour work week gigs.” As a result, field level jobs have a 30 percent attrition rate.

“Companies won’t be able to eliminate the challenges” that come with oilfield service jobs, but they can better educate workers before an offer is made to ensure the candidate understands what they’re getting into, Bradley commented.

Even reducing turnover by half would solve a lot of problems, Bradley noted. However, the competition for professionals within the energy sector has companies competing with one another, and workers have “very portable royalties” and are willing to move a different rig for an extra dollar and hour. “It’s an endless game where one company comes back and offers 50 cents more,” Bradley said.

The competition in the space will end when the market turns down. Until then, oilfield service jobs left unfilled mean a loss of revenue for companies.

Calgary-based Stark Talent is seeing great need for groundworkers in oil the fiefld, including truck drivers and rig workers. There is also a need for experienced human resources workers and managers. Workers are in demand in the Williston Basin and Eagle Ford shale areas.

“Our understanding is they are finally catching up with equipment requirements but infrastructure is still suffering in Williston in particular,” said Douglas Sprague with Stark. A shortage of hotel rooms is being seen in these areas.

Companies also are looking elsewhere for employees outside local areas and paying to have them relocate or rotate.

Chesapeake Energy plans to hire approximately 5,000 workers or more during 2012. A company spokesperson attributed the job growth almost entirely to Chesapeake’s success in developing America’s energy reserves, including shale plays.

Devon Energy, which has about 5,000 employees, will be hiring approximately 500 new employees in the U.S. this year. Approximately 40 candidates who will graduate from college later this year have already accepted offers.

“The majority of our jobs are technical in nature – engineers, geoscientists and landmen. We also hire for all corporate roles,” a company spokesperson said.

The American Petroleum Institute said the oil and gas industry stands ready to address the challenges of high unemployment and stagnant economic growth in 2012 by creating well-paying jobs, stimulating economic growth and generating government revenues, all while improving America’s energy security.


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