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Editorial comment

While many of us in the northern hemisphere have been enjoying our summer holidays over the last couple of months, September is often synonymous with a return to work, school or university/college. It also signals the start of graduate recruitment season – that time of year when a horde of new graduates take their first steps into the big wide world of work.

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For an industry with a well-publicised skills shortage, attracting this new generation of workers is essential. It is particularly pertinent given the rising emergence of digitalisation within the sector, which has elevated the importance of IT expertise. In a recent survey of 2000 workers in the energy sector, Petroplan found that 34% of respondents concur, citing IT skills as a growing requirement in the industry.1

Petroplan’s report emphasises the increasingly important role that graduates have to play as they “can provide the new ideas that will make the future easier to navigate.” The report rightly argues that it shouldn’t be difficult to engage younger employees in the oil and gas industry due to the wealth of innovation within the sector. However, it warns that the next generation of workers are “seeking roles with more collaboration and open communication and less top-down decision making.”

This, of course, leads us onto the next big workforce challenge for the sector. Attracting the next generation of talent is one thing, but retaining them is quite another. While corporate culture, pay, benefits, and job security are all important to workers, so is the opportunity to learn and develop their talents. And just as it is critical to teach the older generation of workers the new skills that they will need to thrive in an era of increased digitalisation, it is essential to ensure that practices are in place to enable the younger workforce to absorb the knowledge and skills of their more experienced colleagues. Airswift’s Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) suggests that just 6% of the workforce in the downstream sector is aged 18 – 24. Although this is a higher proportion of young workers compared to other energy sectors, it is still relatively low, highlighting the importance of adequate knowledge transfer from one generation to the next.

In this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering, Sulzer outlines the value of investing in a comprehensive skills training programme and provides details about its approach to internships (p. 33). The company argues that effective training is essential to gather, retain and share knowledge, which is the ultimate goal to benefit both its internal staff and its customers.

You can also read more about Airswift’s GETI and the company’s perspective on hiring trends in the petrochemical sector, starting on p. 25 of this issue. Continuing the theme, Petroplan has contributed a piece looking at the recruitment market in the downstream oil and gas industry (p. 29) and Bilfinger has offered its insights on how to tackle resourcing challenges during a plant turnaround (p. 31).

  1. ‘Talent Insight Index 2017’, Petroplan, (July 2017).

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