The top energy industry employment trends for 2021

January 21, 2021

What are the key energy employment trends we expect to see in 2021?

Over the past five years, the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) has gained a reputation as a trusted benchmark of employment and workforce trends across the energy industry.

Compiled annually by Airswift and Energy Jobline, GETI is based on survey responses from workers across the oil and gas, renewables, petrochemicals, nuclear and power sectors. This year’s report consists of data collected from 16,000 energy industry professionals.

With the launch of the 2021 GETI report, we’re looking at the energy industry’s top priorities and challenges for the year ahead, particularly with consideration to COVID-19 and how it has impacted the future of the industry.

For example, the report’s findings revealed that 46% of employees feel that the events of 2021 have already resulted in a ‘new normal’ for their sector, with social distancing being the biggest nod to a new way of working.

Read on to find out more of the top employment trends for 2020, with insights into salaries, global mobility, career mobility and more.

Get more insight into salary and benefits within the energy industry by downloading the full report.

Download the 2021 GETI report


Salaries and remuneration in the energy industry

Energy Industry Pay (GETI)

The global pandemic has stifled salary increases within the energy industry. Last year, 45% of professionals reported that their salary had remained the same, and 20% said theirs has decreased by more than 5%.

This is backed up by GETI survey responses from hiring managers, 35% of whom said that salaries had remained the same as the previous year, with 17% agreeing that salaries decreased by over 5%.

Despite some salary decreases last year, both employees and hiring managers are confident that salaries won’t decrease further in 2021.

31% of professionals and 29% of hiring managers expect pay to remain the same, with 34% of professionals expecting a pay rise of more than 5%. 32% of hiring managers also believe this will be the case.

This is good news for employment in the energy industry, and displays hope for the future, despite the setbacks that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although 20% of energy workers reported a pay decrease of more than 5% in 2020, the optimism about pay suggests confidence in business resilience that will be invested back into personnel in 2021.


Global mobility trends in the energy industry

Global mobility trends in energy (GETI)

The energy industry is globally dynamic. Project life cycles can span multiple continents and attract international candidates willing to relocate to work on them.

By embracing this and widening their employee search to countries beyond their business location, organisations benefit from experience and skills gained elsewhere to:

  • Meet project needs
  • Upskill their workforce,
  • Increase safety
  • Reduce project delays

The willingness of talent to move countries also has a significant benefit to nations wishing to improve the quality and expertise of their own engineering pipeline.

Local talent can benefit from the knowledge, mentorship and processes of international workers sharing their ideas.

The GETI report showed positive results for global mobility, with 88% of respondents claiming that they would consider relocating for their job.

Career progression was cited as the biggest factor attracting talent to another region, with 43% of respondents stating this as their main reason for being attracted to another area.

Europe topped the overall list of preferred locations (27%), followed by the Middle East (18%) and Asia (15%).

What impact does global mobility have on energy recruiting and hiring?

The energy industry is already heavily globally mobile, but with more and more workers stating their willingness to relocate in order to boost their career, it’s important for organisations to put measures in place to promote career progression.

Europe was a popular destination for potential relocators - especially within renewables.

European firms in particular should expect to welcome more expatriates and ensure they are highlighting and promoting development opportunities, benefits and progression plans in order to attract the best talent.


Career mobility trends in the energy industry

careers in energy - expectations (GETI)
Career progression is at the forefront of employees’ minds and is a significant influence for switching to other sectors.

This suggests that energy companies need to be doing more to ensure their staff have a clear progression path if they want to keep hold of top talent.

Despite the majority of respondents saying they would be quite/very likely to remain with their current organisation for the next three years, 77% claimed they would consider switching to a role in another sector.

The most commonly cited reason was a desire for career progression, followed by interest in the wider industry and innovation.

The biggest source of talent competition is the renewable energy sector, highlighted as the most popular sector to relocate to by 43% of respondents.

Those working in the renewables sector cited the power and oil and gas sectors as the areas they’d be most inclined to move to, with 54% and 33% of votes respectively.


Will career mobility impact recruitment trends in the energy industry?


Competition for energy talent is increasing. The findings from GETI suggest that progression and development are essential to attracting talent that is dynamic and willing to relocate internationally.

Proactive organisations need to make sure they are designing talent pipeline strategies with defined career pathways and opportunities for assignments that stretch and develop their employees.

Progressive organisations implementing these suggestions will benefit from a stronger employee brand proposition, which will aid in the attraction and retention of career motivated, talented and enthusiastic teams.

Crafting the employee brand proposition to attract candidates outside the organisation’s traditional sector could be a successful strategy.

The findings from GETI demonstrate that many technical specialists with transferable skills are interested in moving to new sectors.

Get more insights into sector mobility by downloading the full GETI 2021 report.

Download the 2021 GETI report


A ‘new normal’ for the energy industry 

has 2020 resulted in a new normal and accelerated the energy transition? (GETI)

The global pandemic has caused many businesses across the world to adapt to new ways of working in order to adhere to social distancing and COVID-compliant guidelines.

Workers in the energy industry already feel the events of 2020 have resulted in a ‘new normal’ for the sector

86% believe that this is the case or will be in the near future. Just 14% said they expect things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic.

In terms of what a new normal might look like for the industry, some of the biggest changes cited by respondents were:

  • Social distancing
  • Workspace flexibility
  • Reduced headcount
  • Reduced international travel
  • Reduced opportunities for expatriates due to localisation programmes

Encouragingly, the majority of professionals (56%) believe that the events of 2020 have accelerated the pace of energy transition.

However, there is also some anxiety regarding an impending talent crisis in the energy industry.

35% are quite worried about this and 24% are very worried, compared to 23% who are unsure, 13% who are not worried at all and 5% who are not very worried.

Employers need to do what they can to alleviate concerns over a potential talent shortage. Possible methods to manage this include


Opportunities and challenges for the energy industry in 2021

Opportunities and challenges for the energy industry (GETI)

During the 2021 GETI survey, energy professionals highlighted the most important opportunities and biggest challenges they feel the industry faces over the next three years.

The top three opportunities identified were:
  • Advances in engineering techniques and technologies
  • Economic outlook
  • Transition to cleaner energy
The top three challenges identified were:
  • COVID-19 or similar public health factors
  • Economic outlook
  • Availability of capital

Encouragingly, energy employees are optimistic about their sectors’ growth, with 69% of survey respondents believing their industry will grow over the next three years.

This is compared to 19% who expect contraction and 11% who expect no change at all.


Download the full Global Energy Talent Index

For more insights into the energy industry’s talent landscape, and to get a clear picture of how the landscape looks for each individual sector, download the 2021 GETI report today.

Get more insights about energy employment trends by downloading the full GETI report.

Download the 2021 GETI report

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This post was written by: Callum Donaldson, Regional Sales Director - North America