The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in “a crisis of confidence” for the oil and gas industry, with job insecurity rife, according to a leading energy recruitment and employment trends report.

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Eight in 10 oil and gas professionals feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago, according to the 2021 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report released on Tuesday, while 42% of the 16,000-plus respondents believe the sector has contracted over the past 12 months.

Pay packet woe

Meanwhile, for the first time in GETI history, over the past year more professionals in the oil and gas sector reported a fall in pay (29%) rather than an increase (28%).

However, almost half expect remuneration to rise in the next 12 months, compared with just 18% who expect further reductions.

On a brighter note, two-thirds of those surveyed expect advances in engineering to open up important opportunities in the next three years.

Renewables and petrochemicals remain the biggest sources of competition for talent, respectively winning votes of 50% and 25% of those open to switching sectors.

For the fifth annual GETI report, Airswift and Energy Jobline surveyed 16,000 energy professionals and hiring managers in 166 countries across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals.

Covid-related anxiety

Some 78% of oil and gas professionals feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago, with two-thirds blaming the pandemic for their anxiety.

These worries are shared by hiring managers, 77% of whom consider their employees’ jobs less secure than they were last year.

Negotiations: wage talks with unions for offshore workers Photo: NOROG

“There is no denying this has been a challenging year for the energy industry and Covid-19-related instability is certainly being felt by the workforce. But oil and gas is a resilient sector, which has learned several lessons from the last major downturn,” Airswift chief executive Janette Marx said.

“The bigger long-term challenge is a reduction in available capital, with investors looking to their own reputations and diverting funds towards sectors like renewables.

“To overcome it, oil and gas firms must show their commitment to innovation and to people, demonstrate support for environmental measures and technological advancements and, crucially, ensure that investors and the workforce alike hear the message,” Marx said.

Silver lining

An optimistic 57% of respondents believe their employer is resilient to recent and future changes and 64% expect the sector to grow over the next three years.

“Oil and gas employers may forgive themselves a little self-doubt but reasons for cautious optimism remain,” commented Josh Young, director at Energy Jobline.

“Technology represents a clear opportunity but so could the energy transition, if handled with care. And let’s not forget that the workforce still has faith that growth — and rising remuneration — will return.”