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UK - Stop poaching staff, oil and gas firms told

07 February 2014

Offshore industry bosses speaking at the Subsea Expo event in Aberdeen have pleaded with oil and gas firms to stop poaching each other's staff amid a culture of spiralling wages and a deepening skills crisis according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal

They believe companies that lure staff away from their rivals are "hurting" the entire sector; and, instead want to see more focus on nurturing existing employees and attracting workers from other industries.

One of the key features of the blueprint that industry leader Sir Ian Wood has prepared on the future of the North Sea was the need for firms to share information and even assets. He criticised in-fighting between rival companies - describing some commercial behaviour as "very damaging".

Yesterday, Aker Solutions' subsea division chief, Matt Corbin, said the only people benefiting from the hunt for energy industry staff were recruitment firms. He warned that salaries were being driven up to "unsustainable" levels.

Mr Corbin said: "It pains me to think that we as an industry continue to do ourselves an injustice, poaching staff from one another, inflating wages and rewarding recruitment companies. We don't need to poach staff. It just hurts every one of us."

Bibby Offshore chief operating officer Fraser Moonie also criticised the practice: "The ever-increasing day rates and wages to try and get people in the door is not sustainable," he said.

Mr Moonie insisted companies needed to focus instead on developing their own staff through training and recruiting from other industries: "It baffles me that in a country famed for engineers, and with the high unemployment rate, we cannot support the demand for good, skilled engineers," he said.

BP subsea adviser and performance manager Ian Mitchell said: "We need to capture the next generation and one way of doing that is to promote our industry into primary and secondary schools before they make their subject choices."

Chevron's subsea systems manager, Peter Blake, said there was a dearth of engineers with the required skill sets and governments needed to make sure engineering was a valued sector: "I don't think that has been the case - it has been seen as an industry that is dirty and old-fashioned," he said.

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