North Sea oil and gas workers are feeling impact of the low oil price which has hit wages and left many chasing jobs, according to recruitment specialists in Aberdeen.
Jobs seekers are being urged to be realistic in terms of wages and roles they are prepared to accept as the industry adapts to the slump.
One recruiter revealed a city-based oil services firm had 800 applicants for an administration role, with many applications coming from highly qualified engineers desperate for work.
Thousands of jobs have been lost in the north east of Scotland since the collapse of the oil price late last year and companies reduce headcounts to cut costs.
Susan Duguid, director at Cammach Recruitment, said: “My advice is have a good look at your cost base at home, decide what you need to pay the bills and then be realistic about how much you’re going to be paid.
“Things are pretty tough in the jobs market just now. I know of one company that had 800 applications for an admin post and most had no experience in the role, including engineers who were looking for any kind of work,” she said.
“I know of another engineer who chose to work for £10 a hour after losing his well paid job. His view was that it was better than signing on.”
“Contractor rates are down at least 20% across the board,” she added.
She said some companies have put their contractor engineers on 15-hour weeks to keep down costs.
“But if you are £75 an hour, 15-hours a week can still pay the mortgage,” said Duguid.
“There are still many people in Aberdeen on very high wages and you can certainly find some on £1,000 per day or more, but they are specialists who are extremely good at what they do and are in demand. Market forces still apply.”
Bryan Creegan, Scotland area manager for Reed Specialist Recruitment, said many workers were having to accept the days of big wages were on the way out.
“I think Aberdeen in particular is feeling the wrath of the low oil price. I have talked to people who are contemplating leaving the oil and gas sector altogether and are considering taking lower paid jobs that aren’t affected by the boom-and-bust hiring cycles in the oil industry,” said Creegan.
“For the first time in many years, we are hearing from job seekers in Aberdeen who are saying they would be happy to take anything.
“Many offshore workers have transferable skills – fire protection would be one example – but when they start looking for jobs onshore, outwith oil and gas, they find that companies are typically paying 40% less than what they were getting offshore.
“We do find that people are being realistic about what they can expect to earn, but for many, it’s pretty hard to adapt to the new reality.”
Alan Clark, senior consultant at The Urquhart Partnership, added: “I have heard of clients closing vacancies early because they cannot cope with the volume of applicants. People are beginning to realise the industry is going through a difficult period and salary reductions have to contemplated, but that takes time to feed through.
“The problem the industry could face is that the talent that is being lost in the downturn might not be available in the upturn. Companies also have to ensure the the people they have retained remain motivated. Being told ‘you’re lucky to have a job’ isn’t the best incentive.”
Clark said Urquhart Partnership’s outplacement support service – that allows companies to support workers threatened with redundancy – had experienced a surge in demand.
“My advice to job seekers is to be realistic – about how challenging the market is, about your salary expectations and to be flexible in where you are prepared to work.”
Around 800 people attended a jobs fair in Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom last week organised by PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment).
She insisted the Scottish Government is doing all it can to help alleviate the crisis.