Local talent in Asia Pacific: the energy talent search begins at home

Local Talent
Getting it right and sourcing local talent brings many benefits for energy companies

It’s clear that the APAC region is undergoing a renaissance of sorts

Throughout the region’s energy sector, there’s been an upturn as new projects have begun to pour through all streams of the industry. However, below the surface, companies are having to rethink recruiting tactics amidst some tough domestic challenges and the need for more local talent.

The downstream sector has experienced a host of new opportunities as firms have focused on enhancing operational excellence and efficiencies. A challenging economic environment has encouraged APAC companies to optimise their resources through the latest practices, including digitalisation. Our recent 2018 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) revealed that 64 per cent of oil and gas professionals believe digitalisation boosts efficiency in their sector. The benefits of this technological innovation can only be achieved if workers are equipped with technical skills to manage future demand and there is a growing skills gap looming.

Ensuring the right talent is available is still a priority for firms looking to gain competitive advantage

The complexity of getting the right people in the right place extends to renewables, albeit for different reasons. Renewables are the most popular destination for energy professionals on the move according to the GETI report. The problem is that the demand for technical skillsets on solar and wind projects far outweighs the supply. There is also a similar situation evolving in infrastructure and mining. Both of these sub-sectors are growing exponentially in the APAC region so, with the right skillsets and recruitment strategies, the potential is huge.

To respond to this potential requires a change in recruitment strategies and long term planning.

Engaging Local Talent

Companies are still dependent on overseas talent to support growth and it is becoming increasingly clear that the growing skills gap requires a new approach. Engaging local talent is key to understanding the market and securing buy in for long term projects. Some governments within APAC have recognised this – even implementing new immigration policies to encourage collaboration between business and the local communities.

Getting it right and sourcing local talent brings many benefits for energy companies, including stronger relationships with the communities in these areas. For example, ExxonMobil’s active recruitment of a local workforce for its  Liquified Natural Gas project in Papua New Guinea has increased local engagement and project support. Developing local talent also encourages a sustained pool of technical skills as professionals pass on their knowledge to future generations. This in turn, enhances long term community interest in future projects.

Recommendations for developing a local talent strategy

Developing a localisation strategy requires understanding the diverse needs of each region. Three factors are critical for localisation to work:

  • Identifying talent within the area: Organisations must ask do the required skills exist and in an increasingly transient world – where can they be found? This is a lot easier when working with a firm that has the extensive local knowledge necessary to source the best talent.
  • Understanding the environment: Each country has a unique set of regulations and requirements. Companies need to understand these to ensure they’re making the right decisions.
  • Developing programmes: Local graduate schemes will help companies better connect with young graduates – but firms must tailor these to the local culture.

The APAC region will continue to grow but it will be the companies that proactively engage local talent that will truly excel. For many, this might be a daunting step into the dark. With the right guidance and local support, the benefits to both businesses and the local communities will be long and sustained.

Airswift


Calum Smith is Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific at Airswift

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