Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit

ALMOST one-third of oil and gas workers faced pay cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent oil price crash, according to a global survey completed by Airswift and Energy Jobline, as a majority consider switching to other industries.
Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit Oil and gas workers are looking for the exit

Mark Tilly

Journalist

Mark Tilly

The fifth Global Energy Talent Index report interviewed 16,000 energy professionals from 166 countries, across the oil and gas, petrochemicals, power, renewables and nuclear industries. 

Around 25% respondents were from the Asia-Pacific region with 23% from the Middle East, around 30% from North America and Europe; 5% are from South America, the rest were from Africa. 

The report said 79% of oil and gas respondents would consider switching to another sector within the next three years, with 50% of those saying they would choose to work in the renewables sector. 

"Since so many oil and gas workers have observed an acceleration in the energy transition, it is not surprising that the renewables sector is the most popular destination" it said. 

In the oil and gas industry, the report noted more professionals reported a fall in pay rather than an increase, with about a quarter of respondents reporting that salaries had fallen more than 5%. Nearly 20% of respondents said they expected to see further pay cuts in 2021. 

However, there is still resounding optimism, with 49% of hiring managers expecting salaries to rise. This is far fewer than the previous year. Nearly 80% of respondents said they felt less secure in their work than a year ago.  

Around 60% of respondents said they were confident that their firm is resilient to the challenges it faces. 

COVID-19 and the wider economic outlook was seen to be the biggest challenge over the next three years. More than 30% of respondents said the availability of capital will be among the most important challenges facing the sector.

"From our observations and conversations throughout the industry, this is the biggest issue of all," Airswift CEO Janette Marx said. 

"We see investors looking to their own reputations and diverting capital to renewables, for example, rather than the oil and gas sector. Financing is going to get tougher." 

Despite this, 44% of respondents said they saw the energy transition as an opportunity, while 33% said it was a challenge. 

Just over half of the respondents believed the events of 2020 had accelerated the energy transition. Meanwhile 60% of respondents were worried about an impending talent crisis. 

The oil and gas sector remains a mobile industry, however the report found 47% of respondents saying they had decided to stay put, rather than move to other global oil and gas hubs in order to remain close to family members.

"People are telling us, directly and indirectly, that remuneration is no longer the key consideration," Marx said. 

"Career progression matters but so too does lifestyle and staying closer to family and friends." 

On the renewables front, respondents from that industry were largely more positive - 35% of professionals reported getting a pay rise over the past year while 67% expected one in 2021. 

"This is a growth industry, and one that has been getting more projects, more attention and more government assistance," Marx said. 

"In the past year, we have seen oil majors and Fortune 500 companies pivoting towards renewables. It adds to the excitement about the future of the sector." 

Two-thirds, or 66%, of respondents said their renewables business is resilient to current and future change. Almost 30% said they were very confident. However respondents said not enough was being done to retain programs for key people and teams in the sector. 

"That is not unusual," Marx said. 

"Employers put in place what they call retention programs, but that doesn't necessarily mean much to an employee."