When considering the oil and gas employment sector: there’s good news and bad news.
First, the good news. The United States economy is finally demonstrating some economic positives: in June, 287,000 new jobs were created, with the unemployment rate holding below 5 percent. As a result of the rebounding economy, oil prices are set to recover over the next two and a half years. This means, of course, that oil companies will need to hire new workers—tens of thousands of them, in fact.
Now the bad news. There might not be enough employees in the industry to fill all of those slots. Since the oil bust in the 1980s and the massive layoffs that resulted, recruiters say that there might be a shortage in laborers qualified to fill these positions.
The Future Labor Market in the Oilfields
When the oil prices dropped in 2014, nearly 300,000 energy jobs were lost worldwide. However, these layoffs seem to have dropped off, as in the second quarter, energy companies cut 42 percent fewer jobs— a trend that is set to continue. Over the next few years, the U.S. oilfield will likely need to attract 80,000 to 100,000 workers to fill open positions. This means attracting 8 to 11 percent of the unemployed population in energy-producing states.
This is a tall order by any standard. Non-oilfield jobs often pay less, but provide more comfortable working conditions and greater stability as compared to oilfield work. As a result, unemployed and skilled oilfield workers might have been attracted to other industries.
Additionally, the U.S. has failed to produce enough employees educated in petroleum engineering degree programs. And, since many of the existing workers have either retired or have left to seek higher paying jobs, mid-level workers are left in their stead to—often inadequately—fill the skill gaps of their more accomplished colleagues.
How Oilfields Can Attract Workers
Certainly, if these companies are going to succeed, they will need to increase their resource spending to attract new talent to the oilfields.
One way would be through higher wages. Higher pay is vital to not only attract new employees, but to keep existing ones from looking elsewhere. This is mutually beneficial, as these trained employees will cost more to lose than to hire.
Internal promotion will also play an integral role. Some oil companies put experienced professionals into lower-ranking staff positions during the downturn to keep these employees on the payroll. Promoting these employees during a period of robust growth is a key strategy to keep your company running smoothly. However, you should keep in mind that promotion will likely not cover all of your staffing needs. You’ll also need to hire low-skill workers and provide extensive on-the-job training.
Where Mark Tool & Rubber Comes In
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