Nearly 80% of oil and natural gas professionals feel less secure in their jobs than they did pre-pandemic, but nearly two-thirds expect advances in engineering may open up opportunities in the next three years.

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The findings are in the fifth annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI), the world’s largest energy recruitment and employment trends report, which was issued this week. Covid-19, said the respondents, “ushered in a crisis of confidence” for the globe’s energy workforce.

Workforce solutions provider Airswift conducted the survey with jobsite Energy Jobline. Nearly 16,000 energy professionals and hiring managers in 166 countries were surveyed across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals. 

The findings revealed the stress across the world, with 78% indicating they feel less secure in their jobs than a year ago, with two-thirds blaming the pandemic for their anxiety. 

“These worries are shared by hiring managers, 77% of whom consider their employees’ jobs less secure than they were last year,” the survey noted. A “sense of precarity hovers over the whole sector,” with 42% believing the oil and gas market has contracted over the past year, including 24% calling it a “strong contraction.”

However, there also was hope expressed by the respondents. Fifty-seven percent “believe their employer is resilient to both recent and future changes, and 64% expect the sector to grow over the next three years.”

The same number of respondents said advances in engineering techniques and technologies “will be among the most important opportunities” for the oil and gas sectors in the near term.

Challenging But Resilient

“There is no denying that this has been a challenging year for the energy industry, and Covid-19-related instability is certainly being felt by the workforce,” Airswift CEO Janette Marx said. “But oil and gas is a resilient sector, which has learned several lessons from the last major downturn.

“The bigger long-term challenge is a reduction in available capital, with investors looking to their own reputations and diverting funds towards sectors like renewables. To overcome it, oil and gas firms must show their commitment to innovation and to people, demonstrate support for environmental measures and technological advancements and, crucially, ensure that investors and the workforce alike hear the message.”

GETI for the first time in its history also said 29% of the oil and gas respondents reported a decline in salary over the past year rather than an increase (reported by 28%). 

“However, 49% expect pay to rise in the next 12 months, compared to just 18% who expect further reductions,” the survey noted. 

Meanwhile, a whopping 89% said they would consider relocating for their job, with “career progression opportunities the No. 1 factor attracting talent to a region.”

The “biggest sources of competition for talent” were renewables and petrochemicals, GETI noted. Renewables was tops with 50% of those open to switching sectors, while petrochemicals opportunities were the biggest source for 25%. 

“In times of uncertainty, such as this, it is talent that gets you through,” Energy Jobline director Josh Young said. “Of course, in energy, the competition for that talent is getting fiercer by the day.

“Oil and gas employers may forgive themselves a little self-doubt, but reasons for cautious optimism remain. Technology represents a clear opportunity but so could the energy transition, if handled with care. And let’s not forget that the workforce still has faith that growth — and rising remuneration — will return.”