Darren Grainger, managing director at NES Global Talent discusses key issues facing the oil and gas industry today when it comes to jobs, hiring and training
As oil demand is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, what its lasting impact on the industry going forward will be is the key question on everyone’s mind.
Despite the industry running very proactive and responsive yet ever-changing HSE programmes and policies that implement, deliver and monitor compliance, the impact is very tangible, according to Grainger.
“The current travel restrictions have impacted several countries around the world, with visa cancellations from certain countries, quarantine rules and even lockdowns impacting worker movement. The geographical talent pool that companies usually tap into for searching and selecting new personnel have also been affected,” Grainger said.
In the current business environment for companies looking to hire, the main challenge will be the impact from travel restrictions as well as talent development. “The traditional demographic of nationalities in current roles in the region for expatriates is being severely challenged with new emerging talent evolving in new lesser-impacted COVID-19 affected countries,” Grainger said, adding that the talent pool within a country or in neighbouring countries is now a hugely attractive proposition for companies looking to hire.
Leverage the flexibility of technology
In this new environment of travel and personal contact restrictions, it may become challenging to recruit in the usual manner so NES is supporting its clients’ with video technology to connect them with candidates and delivering the capacity to interview anywhere through a mobile device, Grainger said.
As specialists become available over the coming weeks and months however, leveraging technology to conduct interviews and sourcing local talent will be key. “Questions can be pre-recorded for candidates to answer in their own time or clients can conduct a live interview. The link can be shared with other stakeholders, reducing the burden and overcoming current geographical constraints,” he said.
NES have over 4,000 contractors across the Middle East region, and many of these candidates are looking to stay in the region as their current assignments end, and secure another role without returning to their home country, he added.
“Given the current travel restrictions across the region, employers may be best served with focusing on candidates currently based in the region in order to keep project timelines on track,” Grainger said.
Meanwhile, clients have embraced working from home for non-essential field operations roles for expats and locals that are not on rotations. Some national operators have confirmed 28:28 rotators will remain in the country for their o‑ period and have provided accommodation given the travel re-entry restrictions, he added.
Skilled talent has been a challenge in recent years. Grainger said this is because during the last downturn graduate recruitment and apprenticeships were cut severely. Additionally, a new challenge now presents itself. “Technology skills are now in demand and conversely competition for engineering talent is now fierce with tech firms in particular that are going after the same students who would historically have chosen oil and gas,” he said.
Digitalisation impact on workforce
New disciplines and job roles have evolved in areas of data science, analytics and advanced materials development, Grainger said, adding that as the ecosystem of businesses change, that in turn impacts a more efficient supply chain. The IOC operating model for digitalising is broken down into several key functions; research and development, new approaches to fuels and products and end-to-end operations - including the supply chain. All functions can leverage new approaches to data collection and analytics and change significantly with the use of data for business improvement and to drive efficient process, Grainger said.
Separately, Grainger expects the national development vision of many Middle East countries will result in creating long-term strategy and therefore hotspots in areas of energy diversification, which will be focused in renewables and downstream. Additionally, as these countries continue to target increased production, the region itself remains a hotspot with emerging developments in East Africa.