Oil and gas employment trends in 2020

April 30, 2020

As reduced demand and prolonged global lockdowns take their toll, how can oil & gas managers respond over the next decade?

While demand for oil was set to rebound and prices expected to increase in 2020, confidence and momentum is now deflated in the oil and gas sector.

Projects have been delayed and the unemployment rate continues to increase at an alarming rate.

With that in mind, how can oil and gas companies develop their workforce strategies to meet a future rebound?

Using oil and gas industry employment statistics researched for the Global Energy Talent Index, we discuss the top five workforce trends shaping the sector in 2020 and the long term

Traditionally, employees within oil and gas extraction and production have enjoyed impressive salaries, but in the last few years, this has ultimately depended on oil prices.

Last year, prices reached $80/bbl, which led to an increase in optimism for workers. In fact, 65% expected a pay rise in 2019, with 39% expecting a raise of more than 5%.

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Unfortunately, the reality didn’t quite meet those expectations. 

Just 42% seeing an increase in pay. 15% experienced a drop in salary. However, this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern - despite dropping below expectations, salaries are still increasing in the sector and are higher than many others in the wider energy industry.

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What’s more, according to the 2020 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, hiring managers were as optimistic as their employees about receiving a pay rise within the next year.

Reluctance to pay relocation fees

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The oil and gas industry is known for being globally mobile.

Professionals in the industry are used to moving to different areas to work on projects all over the world.

It’s therefore unsurprising that the majority of workers would consider moving to another region for work, with the Middle East, Europe and Asia topping the list of desired locations.

Though the number of oil and gas professionals unwilling to move for work is low (9%), the reasons for this reluctance are noteworthy.

10% said that the opportunity to move simply doesn’t exist, which is an unusual notion for the sector. It could be the case that a number of oil and gas companies are still looking to cut costs in the aftermath of the downturn.

In fact, only 53% of GETI report respondents said that cross-regional transfers were available, so it could be that fewer are willing to pay the costs associated with relocating.

With 42% of professionals citing career progression opportunities as the main reason for wanting to move to a new region for work, oil and gas firms must make sure that there are plenty of chances for progression available (and made visible) for their staff. Particularly if opportunities for cross-regional transfers are in short supply. Otherwise, they could risk losing employees to other organisations.

The value of career progression for an engaged culture

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On the whole, employers in the oil and gas space are engaged with their jobs, with 53% stating that they are very engaged with their professional lives. But what makes an employee feel engaged?

As part of the GETI report, we asked oil and gas employees what factors contribute the most towards their engagement. The factors they highlighted were:

  • A collaborative team (53%)
  • Training and development opportunities (43%)
  • Pay and benefits (37%)

However, when it comes to organisations’ performance in relation to the above factors, there appears to be room for improvement, particularly when it comes to training and development.

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Just half of oil and gas workers reported being satisfied with the training opportunities available at their organisations, and less than half were satisfied with career development opportunities.

Though the high engagement levels are a very positive sign, lack of career progression is a strong factor in encouraging workers to move elsewhere. With that in mind, organisations should make sure they are providing adequate opportunities for their staff to grow.

It’s also important to communicate training and development programmes clearly to employees in order to reduce any doubts that the programmes are in place.

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By the same token, the survey found that better career progression opportunities - and more opportunities for higher remuneration - would encourage would-be leavers to stay in the roles for longer. Of the 29% who said they expect to leave their job within the next three years, 61% said an improvement in career progression opportunities would change their mind.

The takeaway here is that oil and gas companies really need to push training and development programmes to ensure they keep hold of their most talented employees and maintain an engaged workforce.

More focus on training and development

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As we’ve already seen, training and development opportunities are very important to staff in the oil and gas industry. From the GETI report, we can see that 44% of employees feel their company doesn’t invest in regular training programmes, and 32% say they had no access to training last year.

Although this is certainly a cause for reflection to employers, it might also be the case that workers don’t see certain forms of training (such as job shadowing) as a development scheme, so it could be that opportunities do exist, but are not recognised as such by the workforce. Therefore, companies should look to improve the way in which training processes are communicated, so that employees better understand the types of training available to them in their career.

Room for improvement with diversity programmes

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The outlook on diversity in the oil and gas sector is generally positive. In fact, two thirds of employees say that their company values the perspectives of people with different beliefs and backgrounds equally, and this is equally true for both men and women.

However, fewer than half of staff members said that their organisations have initiatives in place to improve inclusion and diversity. 31% percent were unsure whether initiatives were in place or not, and 28% said that there weren’t any at all.

As with training and development problems, it could be the case that lack of visibility is the issue here. Unless they are involved in them directly, employees might not know that diversity improvement initiatives exist in their workplace. Even so, however, only half of hiring managers said that programmes are in place, so there's definitely room to incorporate more initiatives going forward.

What does the future of the oil and gas industry?

Would you like to know more about the employment trends expected to shape the oil and gas sector in 2020?

You can get all the insights you need, plus information on trends across the rest of the energy industry, in the 2020 GETI report. Download it for free today.

Download the 2020 GETI report


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