Oil and gas industry employment statistics 2021

January 18, 2021

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5 oil & gas employment trends for hiring managers to watch

According to the 5th annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, 78% percent of oil and gas employees feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago. 

What’s more, two thirds claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of this uncertainty. Hiring managers share this anxiety, with 77% worrying that their employees’ jobs are less secure than they were a year ago.

These concerns arise amid claims that global oil demand will increase in 2021, but not enough to surpass 2019 levels

S&P Global Platts Analytics estimate that oil production will rebound by more than 6 billion barrels per day. However, consumption is still expected to be more than 2 million b/d below 2019’s 101.9 million b/d. 

With this in mind, we explore what GETI has to say about the complexities of 2021’s oil and gas workforce changes. 

Salaries to stay the same 

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Traditionally, oil and gas workershave enjoyed impressive salaries, but in the last few years, this has ultimately depended on oil prices. 

The global pandemic has also created an obstacle in terms of salary increases. Last year, 43% of professionals reported that their salary had remained static, and 24% said theirs has decreased by more than 5%. 

This is backed up by GETI survey responses from hiring managers

  • 34% of whom said that salaries had remained the same as the previous year
  • 22% 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

32% of professionals and 30% of hiring managers expect pay to remain the same. Many workers are confident of a rebound and recovery - 31% of professionals expect a pay rise of more than 5%.

29% of hiring managers also believe pay rises are on the way.

This is good news for employment in oil and gas, despite the issues brought by the pandemic in 2020.

Employee willingness to relocate

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The oil and gas industry is known for being globally mobile, with professionals in the industry 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 (11%), 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

This could be in part down to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought with it a lot of uncertainty around both the economy and international travel.

Only 4% of GETI survey respondents said that their company offers help with relocation, so it could be that fewer are willing to pay the costs associated with relocating. That said, more than half (52%) said that their company does offer cross-regional transfers.

With 42% of professionals citing career progression opportunities as the main reason for relocating to work, oil and gas firms must make sure that there are plenty of chances for progression available (and made visible) for their workers.

Career mobility: More contractors considering permanent employment

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The 2021 GETI report reveals that 77% of oil and gas employees would consider changing their employment status within the next three years

  • 50% move to a permanent staff position.
  • 44% would move to a contractor role
  • and 6% who would consider retirement in the near future

The fact that more people would like to secure permanent employment suggests that job security is a concern

However, of the 79% of employees who would move to a different sector within the next three years, only 11% cited job stability as the reason. The biggest factor influencing this decision was opportunities for career progression (35%). 

This reiterates the importance for companies to have clear progression programmes in place for employees who want to advance in their careers.

A ‘new normal’ in oil and gas 

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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 oil and gas industry already feel as though the events of 2020 have resulted in a ‘new normal’ for the sector, with 86% believing 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 oil and gas sector, 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 

What is encouraging to see is that the majority (56%) of oil and gas professionals said they would still pursue a career in the sector if they were entering the industry today. 

What’s more, workers are still optimistic about the sector, with 64% of survey respondents expecting growth over the next three years.

Whilst this optimism is encouraging, there is also some anxiety regarding an impending oil & gas talent crisis

34% are quite worried about this and 25% are very worried, compared to 22% who are unsure, 12% who are not worried at all and 6% who are not very worried. 

Employers in the oil and gas industry need to do what they can to alleviate concerns over a potential talent shortage by employing methods to fill essential roles such as re-training existing employees. 

Challenges and opportunities 

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The GETI survey asked oil and gas professionals for 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 

It’s interesting that economic outlook was highlighted as both an opportunity and a challenge

The oil and gas sector is no stranger to disruptive economic cycles, but the downturn brought by COVID-19, along with a decline in the demand for petroleum may have put many companies at risk. 

However, according to the Deloitte 2021 Oil and Gas Industry Outlook, the pandemic and the oil downturn have accelerated long-term trends like digital transformation and energy transition, rather than pausing them. 

Energy transition strategies in the upcoming years will rely on digitalisation. Advances in engineering technology and techniques offers more scope for remote operations and human-machine collaboration, as well as playing an important role in setting near-term emissions targets, tracking accountability across companies and more.

Download the full report 

Would you like to know more about the trends expected to shape the oil and gas sector in 2021? You can get all the insights you need, plus information on trends across the rest of the energy industry, in the 2021 GETI report. Download it for free today.

Download the 2021 GETI report


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