Enhancing diversity in our industry is a major challenge. Traditional stereotypes in many countries have resulted in an undersupply of female engineers and has led to missed opportunities in developing in-country talent. This paper sets out how Petrofac is reversing this trend through the recruitment and development of graduate engineers from UAE and other countries with a significant number of female graduates.
Petrofac had a target to recruit 33% female graduates globally. UAE Government guidance led to a campaign to hire world-class Emirati graduates, alongside other nationalities.
To improve candidate quality and provide a consistent experience, the global assessment process was redesigned and made more objective. A situational judgement test to assess candidates' alignment to organisation culture and online psychometrics were introduced as filters. Interview criteria and questions were based on competence and focused on behaviours aligned to Petrofac values. Post-recruitment, the graduate development programme was also strengthened, making it more engaging for Generation Z. Induction, site rotations, virtual learning, technical / business experience, and mentoring were all enhanced, with all graduates given the same level of opportunity.
11,125 candidates applied for 165 positions on the Graduate Development Programme (GDP), a ratio of 1:67. Almost all 165 successful graduates were engineers, representing 14 nationalities, with a gender mix of 46% female: 54% male. Sixty-four were Emiratis (39% of global intake), of whom 48 (75%) were female engineers.
Candidate feedback on the assessment process was positive. The online elements were considered highly engaging, especially the online work preview, which involved situational judgements in realistic engineering scenarios.
Graduates praised the GDP's structure and content. Its three elements - global induction, technical training and job rotations – connected them with management and enhanced their technical, business and interpersonal skills. Opportunities for intense business exposure, technical training, social interaction, diversity and fun have provided a rich learning opportunity in critical areas of the business.
Graduates' ratings on the programme and retention of graduates are currently high. Business managers report being impressed by recruit quality. Emirati graduates have attracted praise for their hardworking attitude, commitment to learn, openness to engage with other nationalities and their technical skill.
Targets for diversity both in terms of gender, nationalities and in-country talent, with a high-quality design have led to a win-win: the attraction, development and retention of graduates who, in turn, are attracting support from the business. In a traditional industry sector, largely populated by men, Petrofac is attracting high-quality Millennials with diverse cultural backgrounds and women engineers. Focusing on Emiratis has opened a new source of supply of young engineers, including women.