Surging energy prices and shortages have created a boost in oil and gas pay and profit, while also accelerating the energy transition and contributing to pay increases in renewables. This sees the sector returning back to pre-pandemic salaries.
During this year's annual survey of over 10,000 energy professionals, we found that more and more candidates are seeking jobs that offer personal fulfilment -suggesting that their career goals go much deeper than just financial gains. We also discovered that workplace restlessness is reducing due to rising salaries and higher job satisfaction, and that the industry’s skills shortage is being exacerbated by rising supply chain costs.
Read on to find out more about recruitment trends across each energy sector.
Get more insight into employment trends within the energy industry by downloading the full report.
Which sector is the top choice for energy workers?
The GETI report revealed that the increase in gas prices has transformed oil and gas into the most popular sector for energy workers looking for a career change.
The crisis has increased remuneration in the sector, sending salaries soaring above pre-pandemic levels. 44% of oil and gas workers reported a pay increase last year, and two-thirds expect further salary increases over the next year. 41% say they expect a pay rise of more than 5% over the next twelve months.
The pay rises are being inflated by strong competition for oil and gas talent; nearly one in three oil and gas employees say they have been headhunted more than six times over the last year.
This suggests a shift in the balance of power, meaning that workers are now in a position where they can negotiate higher salaries. There has also been an increase in pay transparency, with some states in the US requiring companies to publicly share their salary levels. This has created a more empowered workforce that is better equipped to navigate the job market. Employers, therefore, need to highlight their true value to employees beyond salary.
Which sector faces the most competition for talent?
According to the GETI report, the nuclear workforce is the most sought-after in the energy industry, with 83% of nuclear workers being headhunted in the last year. 19% said they received 11 or more approaches, the highest of any sector.
Nuclear workers are twice as likely as oil and gas and petrochemicals employees to be approached by companies from an outside industry. This is a potential cause for concern for employers, especially as three-quarters of nuclear respondents would consider leaving their sector, favouring a move to oil and gas.
The report suggests that low pay could be a driving force for nuclear workers moving elsewhere, with just 59% of hiring managers expecting salaries to rise in the next twelve months. This is the lowest prediction of any energy sector, and has resulted in job satisfaction for nuclear workers being the lowest in the industry.
The increased demand for nuclear talent means that it’s crucial for employers to reflect their employee value in salaries and benefits packages, to keep workers from being tempted to work elsewhere.
How is inflation impacting the petrochemicals sector?
The report indicates that the petrochemicals sector has been hit the hardest by increasing supply chain costs, and has suffered the worst resulting skills shortage of any sector.
71% of petrochemicals workers say their companies have experienced disruption from rising supply chain costs, with 44% saying this disruption has delayed or reduced recruitment and talent retention. Additionally, 41% reported that it has impacted salaries and benefits packages. This is a concern for petrochemicals employers as benefits and remuneration were cited as the main factors affecting job satisfaction among workers.
The recent gas shortages have also caused energy security challenges for the petrochemicals sector. Petrochemicals firms are reliant on oil and gas for their feedstocks, and respondents said that the economic disruption has affected their investment in digitalisation and technology. This suggests a slowing down of the sector’s digital modernisation.
However, the report also found some positives for professionals in the petrochemicals sector. Salaries soared due to rising skills shortages and rebounding demand for petrochemical products, and more than half of workers in the sector reported a pay rise last year. Over a fifth of respondents said they received a pay rise of more than 5%, and a job satisfaction rate of 67%.
What is driving the salary increase for the power sector?
Surging grid infrastructure investment has seen a rebound in power workers’ salaries, which reached pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
The GETI report uncovered that as many regions invest in major power grid expansions, 50% of power employees reported a pay increase. What’s more, only 6% had a pay cut last year, compared to 16% two years ago.
This is expected to continue into 2023, with 72% of hiring managers expecting further pay rises this year, and 46% anticipating rises of more than 5%.
This increase in salaries has led to the sector feeling more settled, with just 41% of workers saying they would leave to work in another sector - the lowest percentage among all sectors.
However, the price of steel has increased the cost of interconnections to the grid and infrastructure development. Higher prices could divert resources away from salaries and bonuses, so in order to retain this high level of job satisfaction, employers must broaden their recruitment offering beyond salaries and focus on wider differentiators, such as sustainability.
More and more employees are now attracted by the prospect of helping to fight climate change, so this is something that would appeal to candidates looking for meaningful work in the power sector.
Why are renewables employees considering a career move to oil and gas?
The GETI report revealed that the rise in fossil fuel prices is driving a migration of skills from the renewables sector to oil and gas, potentially hindering the energy transition.
According to the report, fossil fuel companies are reaping profitable benefits from the increase in prices. This means that oil and gas has overtaken power as the sector of choice for renewables workers looking for increased remuneration elsewhere.
87% said they would consider leaving their current position and 51% said they would move to oil and gas. This is a 14% increase from last year. The biggest driver behind job dissatisfaction is pay (59%), followed by benefits (50%). This indicates that the soaring fossil fuel salaries are a huge draw.
However, oil and gas isn’t the only desirable sector for renewables employees. With the rising adoption of digital technology across the sector a quarter of workers state that they would leave the energy industry altogether in favour of joining a technology firm.
Renewables companies are also facing high demand for their workforce, with 78% of green energy employees being headhunted and almost a third receiving six or more approaches within the last year.
The energy industry is undergoing seismic shifts, causing a degree of disruption among its sectors. Emerging from this disruption is a new generation of employees who want to conduct meaningful work in their job, alongside higher salaries. Today’s workers want to make an impact in their careers, within both the company they work for and society as a whole.
The energy crisis is creating considerable pay increases and new projects for those in the fossil fuel industry. Industry-wide pay rises and skills shortages are empowering employees to choose jobs based on a wider set of criteria. One of which is the desire to make meaningful contributions to the environment and society.
This is an opportunity for organisations to promote the industry’s role in eco-innovations such as carbon capture and storage to high-performance plastics for electric vehicles. Employers should also offer their employees the chance to lead these initiatives to further their sense of empowerment.
Providing employees with a greater voice in their organisation and a role in environmental and social innovations is likely to be well-received. Those who succeed in the race for energy talent will be the companies that make the most positive environmental and social impact, alongside offering the best salaries, benefits and promotions.
To find out more about the latest energy employment trends, download the GETI report now.
This post was written by: Callum Donaldson, Vice President at Airswift