Retaining and hiring talent in the energy industry and training and upskilling employees for their current and future roles is key to maintaining adequate supply of conventional fuels as well as expanding renewables capacity and fostering innovation in clean energy.
The energy transition will need hundreds of thousands of talent entering the energy industry workforce, while oil and gas will continue to need skilled professionals as countries look to boost their energy security by ensuring conventional energy supply, especially domestically, where possible.
Following two major price slumps in the past decade and the growing global ESG trend, many skilled professionals in the oil and gas industry have either moved to other spheres entirely, such as tech, or plan to move to renewables in the short to medium term. ESG plays an important part in many talent decisions to switch jobs from oil and gas to renewables. This leaves the conventional energy sector competing for talent acquisition not only with all other industries but also with the clean energy industry. Furthermore, young people tend to overlook and dismiss opportunities in the energy sector because they associate it with “dirty fossil fuels”, and oil and gas companies scramble to hire new talent to train and upskill in a tight labour market.
The energy transition in countries aiming for net-zero emissions in 2050, including the UK, provides opportunities for new talent and for training of energy industry employees to transfer their skills to the renewables energy sector, especially in areas such as offshore wind.
More than 75% of energy professionals are considering a career change within three years, with the majority of workers favouring a switch to renewables, according to Airswift, an international workforce solutions provider within the energy, process, and infrastructure industries.
Airswift’s sixth annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report showed in March that the global drive to clean energy has accelerated a mass migration of skills from traditional to renewable sectors. The survey, which tracks global energy recruitment and employment trends, also found that there is a growing shortage of technical skills across the energy industry.
This industry-wide technical skills shortage means all energy sectors are now more likely to seek those skills outside their company.
To compile the report, Airswift and Energy Jobline surveyed 10,000 energy professionals and hiring managers in 166 countries across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear, and petrochemicals.
Over 75% of professionals in traditional energy sectors would consider switching to another sector within three years and most potential career-changers in oil and gas, power, and nuclear would move to renewables, the report found. This is partly influenced by concerns over climate change with over 80 % of professionals across all sectors saying that ESG concerns are now a factor in whether to join or leave an energy firm.
“Yet many renewable workers also moved to traditional sectors such as oil and gas in the last 18 months and half of professionals in fossil fuel sectors say their organisation’s ESG policies are sufficiently robust. This indicates that recent decarbonisation efforts are helping boost employee retention and recruitment across traditional energy sectors,” Airswift says.
“Instead of fighting for a limited pool of existing talent, the industry should expand the talent net to sectors such as technology where there are growing skills overlaps,” Airswift CEO Janette Marx commented.
“An engineer on an offshore oil rig has many of the raw skills needed for an offshore wind-to-hydrogen project. That said, some firms will simply look to fill skills gaps by automating more jobs and we are already seeing automation increasing,” Marx added.
Specifically in the oil and gas sector, the survey found that 82 % of oil and gas professionals would consider leaving for another energy sector within three years, and the majority (54 %) would choose renewables. And the talent migration is already underway, with the majority (28 %) of those who joined the renewables sector in the last 18 months transitioning from oil and gas.
“Oil and gas companies could retain talent by offering more internal transfers to green energy divisions, combining career progression opportunities with ESG.
The sector should continue to promote its role in global development efforts and as a bridge to clean energy, supplying transition fuels and providing key assets for offshore wind projects,” Marx said, commenting on the oil and gas industry’s ability to attract and train talent.
The GETI report found that 77 % of renewables professionals would now consider leaving for another industry within three years, and technology is the most popular choice. https://www.getireport.com/oil-and-gas/
“Yet most professionals say renewables firms should shore up their skills to cope with a changing energy landscape by focusing on offering learning and development, retraining and mentoring for existing employees before hiring outside talent. The focus on outside hires over talent development could also threaten talent retention, with career progression the primary driver for the majority considering leaving,” according to the survey.
Making energy transition training a priority is one way for the oil and gas industry to retain talent as governments seek net-zero emissions by 2050, according to Callum Donaldson, Oil & Gas Sales Director - North America at Airswift.
“With career development playing such a crucial role in employee retention, consider providing energy transition training for your staff. This will help ensure that they have the skills they need to progress in their career as the energy landscape continues to change,” Donaldson wrote in a blog post in May.
“Upskilling your Oil & Gas staff could open doorways for them to progress into new roles within your organisation as the energy transition continues,” Donaldson added.
As part of the UK North Sea Transition Deal, the sector will work to ensure that the workforce’s skills and competencies are mutually recognised across energy sectors enabling easier job transferability, OEUK says. In its plan for clean and secure energy, OEUK said in May 2022 it needs to champion a local response to a global challenge, and asked governments and regulators to deliver strategic and long-term export opportunities for cleaner energies, as well as for the skills, capabilities, and infrastructure developed in the UK.
The North Sea Transition Deal itself says that “Many of the skills present in the sector are also transferrable across the wider energy sector. Offshore renewables, as well as the future CCUS and hydrogen industries will rely heavily on many of the current skillsets in the oil and gas industry such as geologists, project managers, a wide variety of engineers, and fabricators.”
Taking stock of one year after the North Sea Transition Deal, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and OEUK said in a report in March 2022 that “Good progress has been made in aligning cross-sector energy training and standards to facilitate workforce mobility and minimise barriers to movement. The Deal commits industry to produce a People and Skills Plan (P&SP) which is being led by OPITO, a skills body for the energy industry.”
In addition, on behalf of OEUK, Robert Gordon University has completed initial work on employment planning and opportunities in carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, and electrification in 2030 and 2035.
Global energy skills organisation OPITO published in May 2022 an Integrated People and Skills Strategy, on behalf of the UK oil and gas sector and with the support of the Energy Skills Alliance.
“With UK offshore energy industry jobs forecast to grow to more than 211,000 by 2030, it's vital that we prepare and empower a diverse, agile and adaptable workforce, nurturing the skills we need in oil and gas, offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen,” the strategy says.
“Alongside the strategy, the first of five action plans, Aligning Offshore Energy Standards, has also been published, to create an aligned training and standards framework across oil and gas, offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage – a top priority for the workforce, trade unions and companies alike,” OPITO said.
“The ultimate goal is to replace today’s fragmented approach with a single digital passport solution which is simple, visible, and fair for everyone. It will help identify role-specific training requirements and provide a platform for workers to store and share their qualifications,” the energy skills organisation added.
“The success of our future integrated energy industry and its four main sectors – oil and gas, offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen – depends upon the skilled, agile and adaptable workforce who'll deliver it,” OPITO notes.
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