Labour-market cannibalism is common, and companies often source candidates from competitors. Is it possible to overcome the recruitment challenges in the oil and gas sector?
Personnel is one of the major challenges for the oil and gas sector. Skilful hands and clever heads are in short supply, and many look to their neighbours in their hunt for personnel. Recruitment from competitors is common, and this contributes to an upward wage spiral.
– Companies have to recruit the candidates they need for the immediate future. Hence, I believe this problem will be difficult to overcome in the short term, says Fredrik Jensen, researcher at the Norwegian Centre for Science Education.
He is among those who will discuss the personnel challenges in the sector during one of the panel debates at UTC.
Initiatives in place
However, looking five to ten years ahead, he does feel that this issue can be resolved.
– In my opinion, one of the best solutions is for companies to join forces to support the measures already in place. Many would like to do something themselves, but for smaller companies this is not easy and it may be more productive to contribute to existing programmes, says Jensen.
Some of the measures he refers to are those initiated by the RENATE Centre which is a National Centre for Recruitment to the Natural Sciences and forms part of the Ministry of Education and Research. The centre has introduced a number of projects where the aim is simply to encourage young people in secondary and further education to choose scientific subjects.
– One of their programmes, the ENT3R, focuses on mathematics. College students and pupils in their last year at secondary school are invited to their closest university or university college to work on their mathematics skills together with science students, says Jensen.
The ENT3R programme is currently available at all universities and in every large city, and some 2000 students take part.
– It is important to further develop this programme to ensure that students in more rural locations are offered the same opportunity. This is where the sector comes in, says Jensen.
Another initiative introduced by the RENATE Centre is the ALFA Rollemodellbyrå, and is a project where people with a background in sciences and the sector visit schools and colleges to talk about their work.
– This is to inspire students to choose scientific subjects, says Jensen.
Informed choices essential
A third area of focus is to ensure that those deciding which career path to follow make the right choices.
– It is essential that students make informed decisions about their line of study. The drop-out rate for some engineering programmes is almost 50%. If we had been able to reduce the drop-out rate to zero and get everyone to complete their studies, far more engineers would be available. This may have provided the sector with enough specialist personnel, and the problem would have been solved, says Jensen.
In other words, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel to deal with the current labour-market crisis. Companies in the sector have to join forces and support the existing measures, and must also ensure that those embarking on their engineering studies have made the right choices and do not drop out after a year or two.
– If initiatives like ENT3R and ALFA Rollemodellbyrå are developed to ensure that students make more informed decisions, we have come a long way, says Jensen.