Outlooks for the oil and gas industry continue to vary along with the supply/demand balance and the continued effects of COVID-19 across the globe. As the outlooks and realities vary, so too do the effects on the global workforce in the energy sector.

Last month, Tim Gould, head of energy supply outlooks and investment at the International Energy Agency (IEA), said, “Producers are grappling with huge uncertainty about where this goes from here. That’s not just in terms of economic recovery but indicators we wouldn’t necessarily normally be looking at - levels of trust in different countries about vaccines.”

What this may mean, and has meant to date, for the oil and gas industry is reflected in a recent workforce report, “The Global Energy Talent Index 2021,” compiled by Airswift, an international workforce solutions provider that focuses on the energy, process, and infrastructure industries. Based on survey results of 16,000 energy professionals of 151 different nationalities and spread across 166 countries, the 43-question survey was open for 8 weeks and closed in October 2020.

Approximately 75% of the respondents were ages 24-54; 90% were male; and employment status was contractor (30%), unemployed (34%), or staff (36%).

For the first time in the survey’s 5-year history, more professionals in the oil and gas sector reported a fall in pay (29%) rather than an increase (28%). For about one in four professionals the cut was substantial: 24% said salaries and day rates have fallen by more than 5%. In last year’s survey, only 11% reported a similar drop.

However, 49% expect pay to rise in the next 12 months, compared to just 18% who expect further reductions.

About 80% of the respondents feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago and they indicated a willingness to relocate, if necessary. Nearly 90% of the professionals would consider relocating to another region, with 42% citing career progression as their main reason. Lifestyle and low cost of living and culture now rank higher than remuneration in deciding to relocate.

Those who do wish to stay where they are cite family issues as a priority. Nearly half indicate remaining close to family members as their reason to stay, while 13% cite their children’s education.

“There’s a clear trend here,” Janette Marx, CEO of Airswift, said in the report. “People are telling us, directly and indirectly, that remuneration is no longer the key consideration. Career progression matters but so too does lifestyle and staying closer to family and friends. This has implications for the way we recruit and retain talent throughout the sector.”

A majority remained optimistic about their employers and the industry. Fifty-seven percent believe their employer is resilient to both recent and future change and 64% expect the sector to grow over the next 3 years.

Among the factors identified as creating opportunities in the next 3 years, the top-ranked (64%) was advances in engineering techniques and technologies, followed by the economic outlook, transition to cleaner energy, and new digitally enabled skills and competencies.

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