A skills shortage in the oil and gas sector is being worsened by companies poaching each other’s staff, and offshore industry bosses, speaking at the Subsea Expo event in Aberdeen, Scotland, pleaded with firms to end the culture of spiraling wages and halt the deepening skills crisis.
Industry bosses believe companies luring staff away from rival firms are damaging the entire sector.
Matt Corbin, subsea division chief for Norwegian oil company Aker Solutions, said the only people benefitting from the hunt for energy industry staff were recruitment firms: "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."
Recruitment difficulties across the northeast are at their highest level since 2007, with half of companies losing core staff in 2013. Almost all (98 percent) contractors are looking to recruit in 2014.
Oil and gas companies in the U.K. are not the only ones experiencing recruitment difficulties. Exploration hotspots in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Texas, South Korea, China, Angola and Nigeria are expected to struggle to source adequately trained staff in sufficient numbers.
Peter Blake, subsea systems manager for Chevron, commented at the Expo that 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.”
Moving forward, companies will continue to struggle to source sufficiently trained staff until the imbalance in supply and demand is addressed. Some companies have chosen to invest in developing future talent by partnering with educational institutions to ensure that incoming staff are appropriately trained and have access to work experience.
However, until the supply of engineers’ increases, companies will be forced to compete for talent and incentivize staff to stay; whether in terms of remuneration, additional benefits or advancement opportunities.