Recent research by PwC revealed that around 60% of the region’s citizens are under 30 years old. The study further highlighted that this age group is expected to grow from under 30mn to 65mn by 2030. Young talent have much to offer employers in the oil and gas industry; they are hypermobile, driven by innovation, passionate about their jobs, easier to train and cost-effective. However, key players in the industry are facing challenges in luring this talented group in the face of new, seemingly more exciting industries.
The key reason for this talent gap is the disconnect between what employers in oil and gas are looking for and how the young population perceives the industry. While most oil and gas leaders recognise that innovation and digital transformation are the key to increasing efficiency and accelerating sustainability, young talent continue to believe the industry offers little beyond manual labour roles and technical skills. To reap the potential of this talented population, the oil and gas industry must rethink its position in the workforce.
Highlighting technology to attract millennial interest
The young talent pool in the GCC is navigating towards industries that they believe will be most impacted by new technologies. These include data analysis, medicine, and more recently, the financial sector. While the 160-year-old oil and gas industry has made continuous strides in innovation throughout its history, these technical advancements have not been conveyed to the younger population.
However, this is changing very quickly in the UAE as leaders are beginning to comprehend the dangers of this increasing talent gap. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), for example, is changing the face of the industry with ‘Oil and Gas 4.0’ – an initiative that aims to adopt and apply technology in the oil and gas sector, connect with non-traditional partners, show environmental leadership and, most importantly, attract and retain talent. Through this initiative, ADNOC will be focusing on integrating cutting-edge technology at every step of the production process, from oil platforms to trading platforms. This is a great strategy to demonstrate to the next generation of STEM students how the industry is focused on the future and not anchored in the past.
Creating a more relevant work culture
Because the oil and gas sector is dominated by an older population, companies typically follow a relatively traditional organizational structure with excessive levels of hierarchy, more formal dress codes, and rigid working hours. However, millennials are looking for more flexible working conditions and the kind of trust and freedom that typically accompanies flatter organizational structures. Another very important factor to consider is that young talent place a greater emphasis on corporate responsibility than previous generations and worry about the industry’s effect on the local community. To this end, there are some great initiatives being taken by regional oil and gas companies, however, these need to be highlighted to the young talent pool from early in the recruitment process. Equally as important, oil and gas companies must embed social responsibility in every aspect of their business rather than pursue one-time projects with limited value for communities.
Fulfilling professional development needs
Turnover rates in oil and gas are lower than other industries as professionals in these sectors are usually content with the higher salaries and the volatility of the markets dissuades people from moving around. This, in turn, can make it difficult for young professionals to envision the rapid path to the top that that they need to remain motivated. Young talent is eager to learn and progress quickly in their professional life and it is therefore incumbent on leading companies in the sector to invest heavily in their training and development offerings. It is also very important for employers to provide constant feedback and provide a clear progression path.
The large youth population in the GCC certainly holds great potential for oil and gas companies looking to transform amid the current global business landscape. To be able to keep up with the advancements of other industries, oil and gas companies must match the pace of this rapid growth which can be effectively driven by the skillset of young talent. To lure this talent pool to the oil and gas industry, employers must be ready to truly embrace the inevitable effects of new technology and adapt to the professional needs of this new generation of workers.