“We attract the best employees and help them learn, grow and realise their dreams through mentoring and other career development assistance,” Aker Solutions says on its website.
“We will help you achieve your greatest potential. We will find the perfect place for your skills and interest in our organisation.”
Tell that to the nearly 100 employees the Norwegian group is planning on firing in Aberdeen in the name of its quest for “digitally enabled services”.
John Boland, regional officer of Unite, was hacked off about the company’s plans, pointing out that only last year, Aker Solutions was boasting about its commitment to Aberdeen and that it was an ideal place from which to “capitalise on the broader potential” of the global energy services marketplace.
Which isn’t really new. Aberdeen has been an important global centre of excellence for a significant number of years.
I’m puzzled by the comment made by current UK country manager Sian Lloyd Rees who said: “In line with our global strategy and continued focus on delivering greater efficiencies, our UK business has evolved to deliver digitally enabled services and enhanced solutions which best meet customer and local market requirements.
“This evolution has included distributing our engineering services and manufacturing work across our international hubs, as well as our technology centre in Reading.”
This suggests a big change in the group’s business model.
A very famous business leader springs to mind. Percy Barnevik, who from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s transformed the engineering big brand ABB with his “think global, act local”, where actual delivery of equipment and services was located in-market.
Barnevik left in 2002, by which time other people with competing ideas took control. ABB was restructured and by then famous Barnevik distributed business model was scrapped.
Those whose jobs are or may be on the line at Aker Solutions in Aberdeen will hope to be offered postings with the group elsewhere. After all, they are highly skilled are they not; and the energy industry is desperately short of good people, is it not?
Once upon a time I wasn’t overly worried about people paid off by big oil and gas supply chain brands and oil the companies. They generally did very well financially and soon landed on their feet elsewhere.
Now I’m not so sure. I’m aware of some pretty miserable severances, even two/three years after the 2014 oil price crash, that have led to tough times for those hit by pay-offs and salaries aren’t what they used to be, especially in the supply chain.
But consider this. Climate change, notwithstanding, recent research by skills body Opito with the Robert Gordon University point to a clear need to fill 10,000 or so new roles in emerging areas such as robotics and data management by 2035.
I hope Aker Solutions really does know what it’s doing.