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Training and Development: The Battleground for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in the Oil and Gas Industry

Guest blog By: Don Shoultz, Head of Upstream Learning and Development, BP

Over the next 20 years, global energy growth is expected to be dominated by emerging economies, with primary energy use growing by nearly 40 percent*. As a result, the exploration and production (E&P) industry will be tasked with accessing hydrocarbons in new, more challenging frontiers. These challenges will require increased skills, capabilities and technologies across the world; meeting them starts with a disciplined, methodical and long-term learning and development plan.


Along with the steadily increasing global energy demand and fierce competition for talent among the region’s oil and gas industry sector employers, there are three additional factors driving the demand for progressive learning and development programs:

  • Experienced professionals are retiring and being replaced by younger, less experienced hires;
  • The complexity of the resource plays being explored and the rapidly changing portfolio of technology required to enable production; and
  • Nationalisation requires a new orientation to how the oil and gas industry engages and develops employees.


Bridging the Talent Gap

A sense of concern across the industry stems from the need to attract, retain, train and develop talent. A recent BP-sponsored Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Survey revealed an industry-wide desire for training.


Three-quarters (74.6 percent) of the survey’s participants stated that access to training and development programs is pivotal in their choice of role, and more than half (53.3 percent) said a lack of opportunities would be enough for them to consider leaving.


Fortunately, the industry is taking deliberate steps to close the talent gap while aligning and accelerating all areas of development.


Embracing New Ways of Learning

E&P becomes more complex each day, and the technology used by petro-technical experts continues to evolve at a rapid pace.


Considering 86 percent of all respondents said starting a career in oil and gas requires training, such development programs address a pressing need to cultivate and enhance deep geoscience and engineering capabilities.


Additionally, the data showed business skills are critical factors for career development and advancement. A holistic training and development program will enhance not just the way employees do their jobs, but ways in which they collaborate.


The complexity of work also creates the need to change the way we define “success” in learning and development. Gone are the traditional “transactional” means of measuring the number of classroom attendees or passing grades. At BP, we measure learning and development in terms of business impact and performance metrics.


Unlocking potential requires a blend of formal classroom training, on-the-job training, experiential learning and purposeful mentoring. Bearing in mind that 25 percent of respondents felt a lack of training is detrimental to their careers, we should continue to strengthen uniform standards, centering on a holistic and performance-based approach to learning and development across companies, organizations, universities and borders. The result: enhanced capabilities for the entire sector.


Focus on Emerging Markets and Building Global Capability

Every year, the E&P segment expands its geographic reach with new resource holders. As our scope of work expands in both complexity and geography, we seek to develop high-performing national employees through partnerships with National Oil Companies.


For example, major oil companies have historically partnered with in-country universities to better equip them with the knowledge, technology and expat expertise that are required for today’s workforce. Enhanced consistency will enrich the quality and depth of the education at universities in various emerging regions. We should seek more uniform standards and closer collaboration with universities to support focused, regional learning and development programs.


This broad collaboration with governments, resource holders and universities not only stimulates the local economy, but demonstrates a commitment to the areas in which the major oil companies operate. Together, we are better able to foster and encourage diversity of thought and workforce within the industry.


Nurturing talent and having an engaged workforce is a key to the oil and gas industry’s competitive advantage in the battle for talent. The challenge is to position E&P as the industry of choice by maximizing capability in established and emerging regions, increasing diversity and creating compelling long-term career paths built on life-long learning. Applying a long-term approach to employee development helps to strengthen continuity in the competencies, skills and, most importantly, performance needed for this vital industry to not just endure, but to thrive.


*BP Energy Outlook 2030

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OilCareers crowned the Best Job Board, the world’s largest online dedicated oil & gas job board, has been named ‘Best Job Board’ for a second successive year at the Global Recruiter Asia Pacific Recruitment Industry Awards.


The 2013 award was presented at a gala dinner at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore on Thursday October 3.


Managing Director, Mark Guest said the repeated success reinforced OilCareers’ status as the leader amongst specialist online job boards.


“ is the undisputed giant of online recruitment within the oil and gas industry,” he said. “We have an array of features that set us apart from our competitors and provide recruiters with access to the largest global oil & gas recruitment community.


“OilCareers has more than 1.4 million registered job seekers and receives more than 8 million page impressions each month. We provide candidates with an easy and effective way of searching for a new job or career across all specialisms within the oil and gas industry, as well as areas of alternative energy.


“Our heritage, size and global reach mean we are best placed to match job seekers to the right job, and provide recruiters with the best value and range of advertising opportunities,” Mr Guest said.


Since its formation in 1999, has steadily expanded its international presence. It bolstered its footprint in the Asia Pacific region in 2012 with the opening of offices in Perth and Brisbane.


“Our decision to expand into Australia was driven by a booming local industry and the opportunity to support Australian businesses looking to resource a significant pipeline of oil & gas projects,” said Mr Guest.


“The decision to invest has been well-founded as there remains a significant demand for labour in the oil & gas industry in Australia,” he said.

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Are startups having a positive impact for candidates in oil and gas?

Today’s guest blog from Dominic Morris, Director – Global Energy Business at Twenty Recruitment

There were few industries that weren’t hit by the economic crisis, with the energy sector being no exception. Even the big players weren’t immune, and projects have ended abruptly due to investment problems. However, the past year or so has seen improvements in the market. Business confidence has risen and the dominating companies in the sector are expanding and implementing new projects.

And it isn’t only the large businesses that are doing well. More startups are appearing on the scene, commonly breaking the geographies that main players haven’t looked at before.

So what does this mean for you as a candidate? With an increased number of companies in the market, there’s a war for talent. Startups recognise that, to be successful, they need to have the right team in place. As such, they’re competing with both peers and established companies for individuals with the right skills, qualifications and knowledge, who are able to adapt in a changing landscape. This means that there are rich pickings for top professionals.

Perhaps the main benefit of working for a startup is the flexibility. There isn’t as much of a focus on salary bands and job categories as in larger organisations, so they can afford to build the job around you, increasing salaries and bonus packages in some cases.

But it isn’t only about the money. When you’re looking for your next position, you are likely to want access to new opportunities. Startups are being more adventurous than some of the bigger players and, to find their niche, they’re moving into new areas that perhaps haven’t been explored before. The result is that you’ll have the chance to work in different geographies, enhancing skills and experiences, which will make you much more employable.

On top of this, development opportunities are important to consider when looking for a new role so that you can keep up-to-date and enhance career progression. This is arguably easier in a larger organisation as they have access to greater resources and internal teams. However, many of the best startups are outsourcing training to compete. And, the benefit that startups do have is that they’re smaller, making it easier for you to get the support and advice you need. In addition, a new employee is typically given greater responsibility early on so you can learn on the job from the beginning.

With more startups now on the scene, oil and gas has become increasingly competitive and top talent is in high demand. If you have the right skills, companies are prepared to fight for you by offering great benefits, so it’s a win-win situation. The only challenge you may have is leaving your current role as many employers have increased the length of notice periods. And of course, when faced with a choice of companies to work for, deciding which one you’d prefer may be difficult!

Dominic Morris, Director – Global Energy Business at Twenty Recruitment

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An exciting time to be involved in upstream projects

This guest post is from Paul McIntyre who is the VP of Human Resources for BP.  Paul discusses why now is the time to be involved in upstream projects. 


Conservative estimates are that global energy demand will grow by 36% between 2011 and 2030.

How this demand will be met is a continuous and shifting paradigm that is being confronted head on by the largest energy companies, governments, universities and innovative individuals, side by side.


Population and income growth are the two factors that will underpin growing energy consumption over the next decades. By 2040 it is estimated that the world population will have increased by an additional two billion people, meaning more energy demand from business, more infrastructure requirements and increased urbanisation, leading to rising electricity needs for homes and buildings. World income is expected to be roughly double the 2011 level in real terms. Almost all of this growth will take place in non-OECD countries, with increasing prosperity in China, Brazil and Russia leading this charge. The result is that oil demand in non-OECD countries will overtake that of its counterparts by the end of this year, something we would never have predicted 10 years ago.


What does all of this mean for BP and its strategy regards the upstream sector? Over the past couple of years there has been a shift in focus by the company, with a decision reached to move away from barrel production, by focusing on the value of the oil produced rather than simple quantities. We believe that the future is with the high-margin projects; thus there has been a divesting of late-life and limited-growth assets that are less valuable in the long run to the company. BP has committed up to 80% of group capital expenditure over the next decade to the upstream sector.


In order to maximise the upstream opportunities, we need to expand our workforce; we are aiming to nearly double the number of high-achieving science, engineering and business graduates brought into the BP organisation in the next two years. As the industry changes, the technology required becomes more vital as does the need for the very best talent.


BP had six new upstream projects alone that came into production in 2012, and the company plans to bring another nine projects online by 2014.  This is an exciting time to be working in the upstream division of BP, with projects located all over the world. We have major exploration positions in Azerbaijan, Brazil, India, Australia and Angola, amongst many others, and we have teams that are constantly searching for new basins around the globe.


BP is also involved with mega projects, each greater than around $10 billion gross investment. In December of last year, BP’s PSVM project in Angola, the largest subsea development in the world, started production, producing more than 3,500,000 barrels in the first two months. In Azerbaijan, the company’s Chirag Oil Project is expected to start production this year. These projects are just two examples of BP’s investment in higher-return opportunities, located in what are widely accepted to be fast-growing oil provinces, and where we are continuing to build our presence.


It is not only mega-projects where we are creating opportunities; we are also seeing the so-called “shale revolution” slowly changing the face of the global energy industry. With the development of different types of unconventional oil and gas, particularly in the USA, the world’s leading energy companies are striving to develop these resources by utilising technological advancements. As these take place, access and exploitation of once hard-to-produce energy sources is expanding.


It really is an exciting time to be involved in upstream sector of the energy industry, and will be for decades to come.


Are you currently involved in the upstream sector?  Let us know your thoughts!

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Sustainability, Job Creation and Public Image

Last week Managing Director,  Mark Guest, presented at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in Denver, Colorado.

The panel discussed the advancement in recovery techniques, how this has impacted on the creation of new jobs and discussed the issue surrounding the advancement of the technologies – “are we implementing these technologies responsibly?”

The panel consisted of:

  • Lynn D. Helms, Director, Department of Mineral Resources, North Dakota Industrial Commission
  • William F. Whitsitt, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, Devon Energy Corporation
  • Mark Guest, Chief Executive Officer,

If you missed the conference but would like to hear more, please view the interview with Mark Guest by clicking here.

Let us know what you think!

Thank you,

Ashleigh Pirie

Marketing Assistant


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Addressing the Skills Shortage through Committing to Career Development

California Sunset

Attracting, and then retaining, talented personnel is an ongoing concern for many Human Resources (HR) leaders. For larger employers within the oil and gas industry, where the current skills shortage is well documented, this is a real challenge.


Indeed, in many energy centres around the world we are seeing unemployment figures that continue to buck trends in other industries. plays an important role in facilitating recruitment in a challenging employment landscape.


If we take the North-East of Scotland as an example, unemployment rates are currently extremely low at 2.2% compared to the UK national average of 8%. In this environment many companies can easily fall into the trap of paying higher wages than their competitors in a bid to retain talented staff.


To many this may appear to be the easiest solution, however we have to ask whether the promise of inflated wages really is the most appropriate solution to ensuring employees stay loyal to your organisation?


At Technip, we take a much broader view regarding staff attraction, and retention, as we believe that being able to offer rewarding career development, including visible paths for progression and job variation are just as important to many individuals as overall salary is.


By giving our staff the control to shape how they want to develop professionally, and by providing them with opportunities to do so, we believe we are creating a very positive atmosphere for our employees.


Combine this with our varied lifestyle benefits and incentives like dental and health plans, child care vouchers and Apple products and we believe we are creating the kind of positive life-work balance environment that will see employees thrive.


Using this approach, Technip has been recognised as one of Britain’s Top Employers by the influential CRF institute for the second consecutive year.


Being identified, once again, as one of Britain’s Top Employers was immensely satisfying for us. Independent research was carried out by the CRF Institute which concluded that Technip’s UK operating centre offers outstanding working conditions and industry leading career development.


Top Employer status is awarded to organisations that meet the highest standards in HR practice. Technip was recognised as having outstanding employee offerings across all areas including primary benefits, working conditions, training and development, career development and company culture.


At Technip, we have worked tremendously hard in all aspects to achieve these high standards. Quite simply we believe that without demonstrating the best in HR processes we would not be correctly placed to achieve our business objectives and attract the right people.

Guest blog by Frank Simons, HR Vice President, Technip’s North Sea Canada Region
Creative Commons License photo credit: chekhter


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Register for the Global Energy Career Expo

Business will be exhibiting at the Global Energy Career Expo (GECE) which takes place in Aberdeen on the 12 & 13 June 2013 at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC).

The Global Energy Career Expo is seen as the leading recruitment platform, giving jobseekers and recruiting companies the chance to meet face-to-face and discuss the latest offshore and onshore employment opportunities.

The Oil and Gas industry is facing a critical skills shortage and in the next few years a number of the industry will be retiring and taking with them their expertise, knowledge and skills.  As the Oil and Gas industry continues to develop at a rapid pace and new projects are revealed, in order to secure the industry’s future, significant numbers will need to be added.

If you fall into any of the categories listed then please register for the Career Expo in Aberdeen this year.

Don’t forget to visit at booth G2, we look forward to meeting you.


Creative Commons License photo credit: thetaxhaven

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Shale gas development to create thousands of jobs

A new report released last Wednesday by the Institute of Directors has indicated that the shale gas development could create thousands of jobs, reduce imports, generate significant tax revenue and support British manufacturing.

The report Getting shale gas working, supports the view that shale gas will be both economic and environmentally beneficial.

Colin Taylor who is the Senior Economic Advisor at the IoD and author of the report said:

“Shale gas could be a new North Sea for Britain, creating tens of thousands of jobs, supporting our manufacturers and reducing gas imports. Further exploration will be needed to assess the size of technically and commercially recoverable resources. At the same time, partnerships need to be established between industry, government and communities to ensure that development of this vital national resource benefits local people.”

The IoD report claims that:


  • Investment in shale gas could peak at £3.7 billion a year which would support 74,000 jobs.  This would allow jobs to be created in parts of the country, such as the North-West which has been badly hit by the recession.
  • Shale gas will not only support geologist and drilling specialists but also construction workers, cement manufacturers and people working in local retail and service industries.  The report also claims that shale gas could support the chemical industry and wider manufacturing.
  • Shale gas production could generate significant tax revenue.
  • By 2030, shale gas production could reduce gas imports by up to 37%.


The IoD findings claim that global emissions will also be lower if the shale gas supports the production of chemicals and other goods in the UK.

Read the full report here.

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Preparing for your future

Life expectancy in the UK is increasing however many of us are saving less into pensions.  Last October, the government introduced workplace pensions and most individuals will be automatically enrolled.  Am I automatically enrolled?

If you were enrolled you, you’re employer and the government will pay into it.  Having a workplace pension makes saving easier and will allow you to keep living the same standard of life when you retire. 

If you opted out of the workplace pension do you have a plan b? It’s never too early to start thinking about your retirement.

Here’s how the workplace pension works;

  • Every payday a percentage of your pay is automatically put into the pension scheme for you.
  • There are 2 main types of workplaces pensions;


1.       Defined contribution pension schemes

Your employer will chose which pension provider to invest your money into.  When you retire, the amount you receive will depend on:

  • How much has been paid in
  • How long you’ve been paying in
  • How well the investment has done

Nearer the retirement age, the pension provider generally moves your money into lower-risk investments; if this is not done automatically you can ask your pension provider for more details. 


2.       Defined benefit pension schemes

These pensions are also known as ‘final salary’ or ‘salary-related’ pensions.  These pensions will give you a certain amount each year when you retire, the amount doesn’t depend on investments.

How much you get will depend on how long you have worked for your employer and your salary, the pension scheme administrator can give you more information.

  • You pay a percentage of your earnings into the scheme, your employer will also contribute and the government will give you tax relief.  Saving couldn’t be easier!


So, if you have opted out of the workplace pension scheme you may want to think about re-joining.

Starting your pension early will give your money time to grow, ask your employer about your workplace pension scheme today.


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Praise for




We love to receive feedback from our users, good or bad!  Fortunately we have had plenty of positive feedback and we thought we would share this with you.

If you were ever in doubt before about why you should use for your job/candidate search, these testimonials should make your decision-making easier.


Happy Candidates


James Raison, UK: I have used OilCareers for a number of years now, and in fact my past 3 positions were found using the service on the website. I can highly recommend using OilCareers, whether you are seriously looking for a new opportunity or just curious.


Vince Plackal, UAE: It was very interesting to visit your stand at ADIPEC 2012.  I have successfully secured two positions via OilCareers.  OilCareers provides valuable information about opportunities; I will continue to use OilCareers for future vacancies.  Thank you very much.


Happy Clients


Tom Heavens, Aker Solutions: As a new user of, I have found the site to be efficient and intuitive but most importantly, it gives me great results. I felt that the training I received from Claire in Customer Support really benefitted me and I can now use parts of the site I didn’t previously know existed such as automated searches. The automated search function has become my favourite tool on the site; it’s a pleasure to receive a list of highly suitable candidates waiting for me in my inbox even before I start work in the morning.


Tom Elam, Macdonald & Company: We have been using OilCareers website for 1 year now and have had great success in sourcing good quality candidates for different areas of the oil and gas market.  We have placed candidate’s sources via OilCareers in Engineering/Construction, Drilling, Operations, HSE and HR.  The site is easy to use and Karen our Account Manager is always willing to help and give advice on the market when we need it.  Her years of experience in the sector have given us valuable insight.  OilCareers has also helped Macdonald & Company increase its exposure within this sector and we it as an integral part of our future growth strategy for the business.


As an international recruiter at Aker Solutions Offshore Partner, I can highly recommend due to the ease of use, customer service, great results and comprehensive search options. I’ll never be stuck for a position again!


James Parker, Change Recruitment: We have used OilCareers for several years now and have trialled others along the way but I have found that OilCareers always performs well for us. I find the site to be user friendly and it continues to produce good results for me and my recruitment team.


The above testimonials highlights why we are the online leading job board for the oil and gas recruitment industry.

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Disclaimer: Any views here do not necessarily reflect the views of OilCareers Ltd. As such we cannot be held responsible for the views expressed here or any actions taken as a consequence.