The top petrochemicals recruitment trends to watch out for in 2020

March 12, 2020

The petrochemicals sector entered the 2020s in good health. Global economic growth over the past decade has driven demand for plastics, fertilisers and other products.

This in turn has led to growing salaries for petrochemicals workers - a group whom our research shows are 

  • engaged in their jobs
  • believe in the importance of teamwork and 
  • generally feel valued by their employers

But will this mean a steady supply of talent for petrochemicals companies throughout 2020? 

Or should hiring managers be concerned about growing competition for staff from a resilient oil and gas industry and an optimistic renewables sector?

Read on to find out the biggest recruitment trends expected for 2020 within the petrochemicals space. 

Salaries are expected to further increase 

The petrochemicals sector performs very well in terms of salary. According to the 2020 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, an annual survey of energy industry workers conducted by Airswift and Energy Jobline, 55% of professionals in the sector reported a pay rise last year. Of these, a quarter earned a raise of more than 5%. 

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-01

It would appear that this trend is expected to continue; 70% of professionals expect a pay rise in the next year and 41% expect it to be more than 5%. This optimism is shared by hiring managers, as 70% expect to see salary increases and 39% expect a raise of more than 5%. 

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-02

These expectations are based on assumed strong foundations. At the time the survey was produced, the oil and gas sector was expecting to see a growth in supply, with crude oil output averaging 13.3mn bl/d. This growth will create more work for refineries as there is more crude oil to process, even while demand for fuel declines, providing more jobs for those in the petrochemicals profession. 

Additionally, areas in Asia and Africa are seeing continued economic development; this builds out the capacity for petrochemicals and contributes to the need for qualified staff. With that in mind, it’s not unreasonable to expect salaries to see an upward lift as more companies and projects compete for talent. 

While recent changes in both supply and demand have been influenced by the Coronavirus outbreak, long term pay optimism is positive.

Petrochemicals companies need to do more to support female employees

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-04

On the whole, the petrochemicals sector is highly engaged, with 90% of employees claiming that they feel engaged with their work. 

However, the GETI report highlighted that women are slightly less engaged than men (83% compared to 90%). Men were also more likely to describe themselves as ‘very engaged’. This is significant when we consider that just 29% of women feel ‘very valued’ at work, compared to 39% of men. 

According to the report, women put training and development at the top of the list when it comes to factors impacting engagement. They are also more likely than men to value diversity and inclusiveness, remuneration and benefits, and flexible working. 

The fact that women are placing emphasis on professional development and salary suggests that they are still trying to break through a glass ceiling, as men appear to be more satisfied with these factors. The fact that diversity and flexible working appear high up in the priority list also suggests that organisations need to be doing more to support women in order to maintain a deeply engaged workforce. 

Skills and training opportunities need to improve 

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-05

Although engagement is high throughout the petrochemicals sector, a worrying percentage of employees don’t feel that their organisations regularly invest in training and development.

40% of workers feel this way, and 28% say they haven’t received any training at all in the last year. 

With career progression such an important factor for petrochemicals professionals, organisations need to make sure that they are 

  1. a) offering satisfactory training and development programmes and 
  2. b) communicating those programmes effectively so that employees know they exist and can take advantage of them. 

There should be more diversity programmes available in the sector 

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-06

74% of petrochemicals employees say that their company equally values the perspective of people with different beliefs and backgrounds.

Though this percentage is encouraging, just 61% of 18-24 year olds have a positive view of their company’s diversity performance. What’s more, while 52% of hiring managers say that initiatives are in place to improve inclusion and diversity, just 40% of non-hiring professionals believe this is the case. 

This is concerning, as hiring managers should have a fairly good grasp of diversity in an organisation. 

Hiring managers should be more involved in diversity initiatives as it’s their job to bring inclusion and diversity to the fore when hiring and onboarding new members of staff. 

When it comes to the oil and gas workforce as a whole, only 15% is currently made up of women

This could be attributed to a number of factors, such as:

Failure to make gender equality a value 

Industry leaders often refer to gender equality as a ‘priority’, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s built into the company culture the way factors such as safety are. Rather than seeing it as a goal, employers and hiring managers should ensure that equality influences everything the company does. 

Weak messaging about the benefits on offer

One of the challenges in attracting a more diverse workforce is how companies position themselves to all candidates. 

As well as highlighting benefits such as high salaries, hiring managers should consider other factors when creating job descriptions. For example, studies have shown that women are particularly concerned about climate change. For this reason, experts believe that more female leaders in the energy industry could help to combat some of the effects of climate change. 

In order to draw more female candidates to jobs, petrochemicals employers should therefore ensure they highlight the full range of cultural and workplace benefits they offer to candidates - not just the perks they know to have worked well in the past. 

Sector mobility is likely 

Petrochemicals Data Graphics-07

With high levels of engagement and salaries continuing to increase, it’s no surprise that the petrochemicals workforce is fairly loyal. 

However, despite 43% of employees expecting to stay with their current employer for the next three years, 77% said they could be persuaded to leave for the right career progression opportunity, and 68% would be tempted by a salary increase.

Interestingly, for the 26% who were looking to move in the next three years, the same factors would convince them to stay (reported by 70% and 61% respectively). 

What’s more, 82% of employees said they would consider switching to another sector within the energy industry. The most popular sector to switch to was oil and gas, which has a significant amount of transferable skills from the petrochemicals sector. 

These statistics suggest that organisations can’t afford to get complacent. Although the workforce is generally happy, the availability of career progression opportunities needs to be taken into consideration if employers want to retain their talent. 

Get the full report

To get all the latest insights into recruitment trends in the petrochemicals sector and the energy industry as a whole, download the 2020 GETI report now. 

Download the 2020 GETI report

This post was written by: Charles Pfauwadel, Regional Director - South East Asia