Wanted: skilled workers for the expanding Australian gas industry

Hays Oil& Gas Regional Director Simon Winfield.

Hays Oil& Gas Regional Director Simon Winfield.

Expansion in the oil and gas industry has created an opening in the job market. Hays Oil & Gas Regional Director Simon Winfield outlines the skill sets likely to be in demand in 2010.

Geophysicists, drilling engineers and subsea engineers are some of the technicians employers will be seeking in 2010.

In the January - March edition of the Hays Quarterly Report, Hays Oil & Gas revealed that the growing list of skills in demand by employers is the result of several factors.

“Firstly, there are many instances of employers opting to recruit now in an attempt to gain competitive advantage and secure the best of the available talent,” says Mr Winfield.

“Employers are recruiting with a more long-term view than they have during the past two years. This is most obvious when recruiting for larger projects, for which employers want to secure high-calibre staff permanently to increase their in-house skills and capabilities. Having said this, temporary assignments are also rising in states undergoing project feasibility and concept design stages.

“Secondly, many organisations that cut staffing numbers to the bone are looking for new recruits to cope with a ‘back to normal’ workload. Departing staff in 2009 were rarely replaced, with their duties absorbed by remaining staff members. Now that business confidence is rising, employers are reassessing and re-creating vacancies where required. They are repopulating teams.

“Thirdly, candidates already in permanent roles are re-entering the job market, looking for their next career step. The oil price, a stabilising economy and large projects are again sparking their interest. Many of these projects are yet to commence full construction, so the anticipation level between potential job seekers is high. This momentum will also generate opportunities as positions become vacant, further fuelling the job market,” says Mr Winfield.

According to the Hays Quarterly Report, drilling engineers, construction managers with LNG experience and civil engineers are needed in Queensland. In the state’s geoscience market, technical assistants and geophysicists are being sought. There is a strong preference for local applicants across the geosciences.

Given that some of the world’s largest multidiscipline consultancies are based in Melbourne, the recruitment of designers is rising in Victoria. These skills are required for both domestic and international LNG projects.

In Western Australia, subsea engineering, development and exploration geologists with 10 – 15 years experience, petroleum and reservoir engineers with
10 – 15 years experience and geophysicists are in demand.

The discovery and exploration of continued high-value deposits is creating demand in New South Wales in coal seam gas exploration for exploration geologists.

Eye of the storm

Given levels of candidate demand currently evident, the Australian oil and gas industry could soon experience a major skills shortage.

“The skills storm is sure to return, and those with effective resource planning in place and the right infrastructure will be the ones who come out smiling,” he says.

Moreover, he says that Australia’s oil and gas talent pool is relatively shallow in comparison to other regions around the world.

“Global oil and gas recruiters will be required to draw on a worldwide network of offices and global database to find the skills companies seek as and when demand exceeds local supply.

He says that salary pressure is also likely to occur and that while salaries did not increase in 2009, the company expects them to begin to increase this year. Small to medium sized companies are also thinking long-term towards their future retention levels.” They often ask us to compare their salary packages to those offered overseas or in Western Australia if they are located elsewhere,” he adds.

“There is more than $200 billion of work now coming online in terms of Australia’s gas infrastructure. This will re-energise the job market not just back to the level it was, but more so.”

For recruiting advice, contact Hays Oil & Gas on (08) 9226 5766 or email og.perth@hays.com.au

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