been considerable hand-wringing over the graying work force in the
oil and gas industry.
gone unnoticed for the most part, however, is that this is largely
an American phenomenon.
the average age of industry professionals in the United States is
higher than the rest of the Western world — and much higher than
the developing countries.
one of a slew of findings revealed in a recent forum held by Worldwide
Worker in Houston. The organization, which is dedicated to providing
professional staff to the oil and gas industry, presented the results
of its second annual recruiting trends to an audience of 51 attendees
from 36 companies involved not only in E&P but also E&C
(engineering and construction).
during the survey revealed a greater gap and deficit in available
professionals in E&P than E&C. In fact, E&C harbors
a possible talent pool to pull from for E&P engineering jobs,
which could be filled by such people as facilities and design-type
engineers, according to Mauricio Arce, business manager at Worldwide
at the top 10 most demanded E&P positions, however, indicates
this is but one small part of any potential solution to the personnel
problems facing the mature domestic segment of the industry, where
infrastructure builder demand is low and exploration demand high.
top 10 most needed E&P jobs in North America," Arce, said, "the
top five consists of reservoir and petroleum engineers, geologists
and geophysicists and drilling engineers."
In an industry
where the declining knowledge base is colliding head-on with more
complex drilling requirements, there are some specific requirements
in terms of experience. The most desirable candidates in the United
States are those with three to six years or six to 10 years, Arce
said, noting that these demographics aren't clustered on domestic
into this experience range, companies might have to increasingly
look to the Eastern Hemisphere and Third World countries, where
there are more available candidates at the three- to five-year and
six- to 10-year experience levels, according to Arce.
a very sobering statistic, especially for those companies hiring
only from Western backgrounds or Western universities," he said,
"as well as for those looking to hire in those years of experience
but not willing to sponsor visas. Because it's so difficult to find
top talent in these brackets, the companies are either filling positions
with people having more years of experience or not filling them
than training professionals to step up to the plate to replace soon-to-retire
workers in a structured succession planning program, companies without
training programs opt to poach from their competitors who may have
traditional in-house training, thus creating a vicious cycle.
survey undertaken by Worldwide Worker concluded the industry needs
to provide more exciting jobs and opportunities to the "under 30"
or less experienced people to help solve the demographic problem.
trends revealed by the survey showed downstream salaries to be constant
while salaries are on the increase for upstream positions. Because
of the hire-and-fire culture, staff salaries for experienced hires
are moving toward a supply-and-demand mode, much like consultants.
respectable salaries and heightened demand for E&P professionals,
there has been no significant influx of students into American universities.
in other parts of the world, however, are pumping out increasing
numbers of graduates, particularly in Far East Asia. These future
professionals have a whole different agenda spurring them onward,
according to Arce.
students for the most part are turned off by the cyclical, unstable
nature of the oil and gas industry, he noted, and see it as a lifestyle
they find unacceptable.
contrary, their peers in developing countries look at the industry
and see vast opportunities for the work ethic of a Third World country
professional accustomed to working in non-benign, hostile, poor-paying
on the industry is it can provide the chance to enjoy a better lifestyle
and to make more money, even though it might be considerably less
than their Western counterpart, who may balk at tough tours of duty
overseas without significant added financial compensation from an
World hire not only has the education and language skills but also
the work ethic to work most anywhere needed.
are starting to hire Third World country professionals educated
in their own country or in Western universities," Arce said, "and
this is creating a lot of competition for the Western-cultured student.
next to a Third World student who will take maybe a thousand (dollars)
less per month, so the American student decides to go into another
industry that's not as global, (meaning) less competition.
what the oil and gas industry and the universities are dealing with,"
Arce said. "We found this was one of the compelling reasons why
the Eastern universities are graduating more engineers and G&G
students than in the Western Hemisphere."
of a Bridge
Worker survey revealed some noteworthy statistics about the supply
of professionals worldwide by 2008. For instance, the number of
white collar oil and gas workers in the Middle East will increase
by 6,000 over today and by 12,000 in the FSU. In contrast, there
will be a deficit of 14,000 white collar professionals in the United
one of the fundamental problems within the industry as seen from
the HR standpoint:
that a lot of HR people have in the oil and gas industry is that
a lot of HR departments have none or little budget," he said, "and
little say-so in succession planning, staffing and development.
that mix in with a diminished talent pool, increasing demand for
a range of talent in the three- to five-year and six- to 10-year
range and a diminished number of graduates in Western universities,
and it's a quagmire."
HR is getting little support on these issues from executive management,
which makes decisions affecting staffing solutions based on the
economy, consumption and oil and gas demand.
a fundamental problem within companies," Arce said. "HR professionals
see where this is headed, but the problem is the executives aren't
listening to them.
must be a bridge there," he said. "The executives must give more
power to HR management to implement the tools and solutions they
know will work to solve the problems.
need to find a way to retain, motivate and train the people they
have," Arce said. "If they can't, then they will have to hire more