The volatility of oil prices in 2015 has made it a challenging start to the year for both candidates and companies in the Oil & Gas industry. Although the price has since increased, this instability has resulted in employers being more risk averse when making recruitment decisions.
Many major companies have responded to this challenging environment by restructuring their organisations and making redundancies. Cutbacks have been made to both temporary and permanent staff, and have resulted in an influx of candidates on the market. Employers are now less likely to pay for employees to relocate and are cutting back on FIFO roles in favour of residential arrangements.
There is considerable focus on the pre-screening stages of hiring given the volume of applications and the increased scrutiny on hiring choices. Given the shift from construction to operations, there have been less design and project focused roles. There will be a call for those who can add value to operations and drive process improvements to reduce cost and increase productivity. With minimal greenfields projects on the horizon, candidates with brownfields maintenance and operational skills will be in demand in the contracting space in the next quarter.
While exploration companies are inevitably struggling to gain investment, the consultancies are really feeling the pinch and across the board are reducing their workforce numbers. This has resulted in employers focusing slightly more on temporary staff who can work on short-term assignment. Having said that, there are still niche companies (SMEs) looking to make strategic placements that are not feeling the effect of the low oil price as much as others.
Candidate levels have increased in the market and we are now seeing some top talent becoming available as retrenchments are now being extended to highly experienced and skilled Engineers. It is likely that for the next few months we will see employers continue to turn to temporary staff to help them reach project milestones.
Commercial Analysts are needed to assess the viability of operations and assess the current standing of projects.
Maintenance/Reliability professionals are in demand as employers are looking to avoid disrepair and to maintain the value of their assets. Meanwhile both field and office-based Operation-focused professionals are required to ensure efficiency.
With gas works set to continue throughout the year there is a need to have Project Engineers capable of running both distribution and transmission pipeline projects.
Small to medium-sized enterprises require Process Engineers to help develop overseas markets and devise strategic plans.
Project Managers have also been in demand in the gas pipelines arena, both in terms of man and project management roles. Again, because of the volume of work, individuals who can take a project from end-to-end without leadership are hot property in Victoria.
With a lot of candidates recently leaving consultancies, we have seen a number moving to overseas roles (China, Singapore, Europe) as the opportunities do not exist in high numbers in Victoria and the confidence looking forwards seems to have been lost. Therefore, they are looking at overseas opportunities.
As companies focus on developing new business opportunities, talented and experienced Sales Engineers are in demand to assist with tender preparation and servicing existing clients.
Estimators/Cost Engineers are becoming continuously relied upon to ensure companies are developing competitive tenders and finding efficiencies within their own projects and businesses.
As major projects in Darwin progress further into their construction phase, candidates with specialist trades experience in areas like pressure testing and NDT are in high demand.
In terms of candidate trends, the main focus for people in the market right now is stability. Candidates have shifted their focus from financial and career development opportunities to now seeking a role where they can remain stable for a number of years.
Candidates are acknowledging the difficulty of the current environment and are adopting a flexible approach to their job search. The large volume of people seeking work and the shortage of opportunities means candidates are having to adopt a very open mind and are willing to consider alternative career paths/roles.
The oversupply of talent has forced people to consider lower salaries and contract rates as both have decreased considerably. Candidates are also looking outside the industry for opportunities where they can transfer their skills.