Voice of the boardroom

A talent crunch across the energy sector has been predicted for years and it is now our reality. It has long been on the agenda of industry leaders, concerned by the lack of talent joining the sector, especially when viewed from a diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) perspective. The long term future of oil & gas remains a difficult thing to forecast given environmental and societal demands and despite the awful events in Ukraine forcing a focus back on the security of supply. Today, we find ourselves in a position where talent in the sector is fading away quicker than the sector itself..

Admittedly, the extraction of oil & gas is seen in poor light in our society, despite most understanding its role in our day to day lives. However, much like everything, it’s not so black and white. We must continue to recognise there is a need for the products and people that oil & gas supports and its role among the broader mix of resources – wind, solar and nuclear – but what are we going to do if there is no talent to deliver it?

Security and safety are paramount in the energy industry. The skills gap has a tight noose on current and future technical professional service candidates at all levels, many of whom are seeking employment in other sectors, particularly renewables. This inevitably leads to overworked staff, potential delays in projects and delivery, which then leads to more leaving the industry—creating a vicious cycle.

Traditionally careers in the sector have been perceived in a positive light, especially around career development and growth but it is now affected by societal pressures around sustainable operations and greener initiatives, and we are in danger of losing a highly skilled workforce. At this juncture, we, as employers and recruitment specialists, need to manage the industry’s perception more than ever to continue attracting and retaining the talent required.

In particular, as a result of younger generations being more concerned about the environmental impact of oil & gas, there is a lack of graduates entering the sector, particularly women. We need to work on the industry’s portrayal and encourage students to pursue STEM careers from a young age. People want environmentally focussed, purpose led careers aligned with current ecological and societal values, as they should – but a career with an oil & gas company could provide that.