The UK oil and gas industry has, for some time, operated within a tight labour market and the need to expand the talent pool has been talked about for many years.
It is generally accepted that constantly competing for the same staff only serves to artificially inflate wages and reduce loyalty. In recent years we, together with many others in the industry, have taken a much more long-term and sustainable approach to the skills issue.
In May 2012, we set the ambitious target of recruiting 500 people for our operations in Aberdeen. We met that target nine months ahead of schedule and last September announced plans to hire several hundred more. How did we do it? We recognised the need to tackle our skills issue on a number of fronts.
Firstly, we created avenues for people with transitional skills to enter the oil and gas industry. Drawing on talent from the military, police, airline industry and even financial services, we have developed programmes to bring them quickly up to speed with our industry.
Our next step was to look at the issue at a grassroots level. We have increasingly invested in apprenticeship and graduate programmes, ensuring that we are building our own workforce for the future.
Attraction is only part of the equation, however. To retain the best staff, you have to create an environment that people want to work in.
As a key part of this, I believe we have created a unique culture among our young talent population. We call it The Solutioneers. We have sought to give them an opportunity to create the kind of company they would like to be part of – with some outstanding initial results.
That initiative, together with our increased focus on schools and community engagement, is all about feeding the pipeline of talent for the future. Our approach is to keep our people engaged and interested in their work, to give them a great working environment, to support their development and reward for hard work.
We want to create a culture, not just a company. To my mind, anyone that is willing to jump ship for a few extra pounds in their payslip might not be someone you want on your team in the first place.
David Currie is UK regional president of Aker Solutions