Oil and gas news this week has understandably focused on the continued announcements of job losses across the industry. We’ve heard about it from the industry perspective, we’ve heard about it from the education perspective and across the board, the message seems to be “let’s get this into context”. From an oil and gas recruitment perspective, the message is similar – but with some additional insights on offer.
Back in October, when initial contractor rates cuts were grabbing the headlines, we advised those looking to move job to sit tight as we were certain that the cuts would extend across industry, affecting most companies and encompassing staff personnel, too.
No point in jumping from the frying pan into what turns out to be the fire.
These recent announcements are part of a cycle we’ve seen many times before – but in the midst of career uncertainty, that salient point is often forgotten. Whilst it’s clear that the oil price will continue to fluctuate, we advise our candidates to remember that we are not in an irreversible downward spiral.
In the longer term, demand will overtake supply again.
But now that the focus has extended to cuts in staff workers what do we, the oil and gas recruiters, advise in the meantime?
For some time now the recruitment sector’s issue was an industry demand that could not be met by supply. That is turning around somewhat, and the past three months have seen a significant increase in contractors contacting us for alternative opportunities, in an attempt to pre-empt the rates cuts.
So far, this has not been matched by enquiries from staff workers, but we do predict that this isn’t far behind. However, if demand for staff isn’t there at the moment, is a potential move the best course of action?
Firstly – remember that the North Sea industry still needs to function. This week, Oil & Gas UK, OPITO and the department for Business, Innovation and Skills published a report which continued to highlight the importance of relevant skills development in schools, colleges and universities. Ultimately, they are concerned that demand will once again outstrip supply.
There’s an important message in there for those who are already in industry. In our business, we know that it’s a combination of the correct skills and attitude that make the ideal candidate. We frequently see one without the other, and those who want to develop their skills are illustrating that vital, correct attitude to their employer.
It sounds obvious, but it’s often forgotten; when cuts are being made, illustrating your commitment to your current role will go a long way towards ensuring a more certain future.
Secondly – at times like these, it’s an obvious (albeit major) decision to consider overseas work.
It can be a step too far for many, depending upon circumstances, but don’t forget this can be considered in terms of a temporary move. The current overseas market is more buoyant for drilling and wells personnel, and as this area of expertise is likely to be one of those hit the hardest in the North Sea for now, an overseas contract role can be viewed as a short/mid-term alternative – for both current staff and contractors.
As oil prices start to recover, as they inevitably will, the option for returning to a demand-led, North Sea market will be there.
An overseas move is frequently seen as an obvious contractor option, but less so for staff. This isn’t always the case – make the first move and find out what your employer’s international plans are. Alternatively, consider a temporary move into the contractor market overseas.
With our contractor management experience, we’re able to help make the successful shift from staff to overseas contractor and back again.
Dealing with announcements like those we’ve seen this week means keeping an open mind, a willingness to be flexible, upskilling wherever possible and recognising that your recruitment agency can advise you, as most of them have dealt with this situation before. Bear these four points in mind and you will successfully come through this latest stage in the oil and gas cycle.
Mark Clarke is chairman of Frontier International, specialists in international oil and gas resourcing and recruitment. He has over 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, in both well engineering and recruitment.