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Retirement and skills gap threatens oil and gas growth

Oilfield Technology,

According to Mercer’s Energy Consulting practice, the world’s oil and gas industry is in the midst of a talent crisis and needs to find alternatives to poaching from competitors. A workforce analysis carried out by the company revealed that in the US alone, many large employers risk losing 50 – 80% of their retirement eligible population in the next five years alone.

Oil and gas talent outlook

To help address this global energy talent crisis, Mercer have released the Global Oil and Gas Talent Outlook and Workforce Practices Survey which indicates that approximately two thirds of oil and gas companies intend to fill the void by ‘buying’ talent from outside their organisations, and nearly 50% of these same employers intend to use ‘poaching’ from competitors as their predominant source for new talent. This dynamic arises at a time of unprecedented opportunities that can only be capitalised on with a sufficiently productive, engaged and increasingly global workforce. Unaddressed, this talent shortage will threaten individual company growth and profitability.

Key findings

  • 74% of organisations surveyed cited ‘technical skills gap’ as a critical problem, but leadership, management and supervisor skills were also noted as being in short supply.
  • The oil and gas industry will add more than 530 000 positions in core professional and technical jobs over the next five years and more than 1.1 million over the next 10 years, yet over half of the world’s largest oil and gas producing countries will not have an adequate supply of talent to meet this demand.
  • Among the 56% of companies who say they have a workforce planning process that identifies gaps, only 27% say that process also provides solutions to close gaps.


Philip Tenenbaum, Senior Partner and Global Leader, Mercer’s Energy consulting practice said, "the widely embraced strategy in the oil and gas industry of poaching from the competition is simply not viable or sustainable. A more strategic approach to both talent and acquisition and workforce management that focuses on innovation and execution is required for those oil and gas industry members who hope to become leaders and separate themselves from the competition."

Tenenbaum continued, "the tendency to simply benchmark will not be enough. Oil and gas HR leaders need to lead the way in conducting a deep examination of their own workforces, understanding labour trends in key markets, forecasting talent and skill needs and most importantly building a customised plan of action that will address their very specific talent gaps and opportunities.

"We believe oil and gas companies will need to find more innovative and creative ways to fill the talent pipeline, long and short-term, in order to create a true competitive advantage."

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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