What manpower bottlenecks does the oil & gas industry face and how can they be addressed?

The aim of this study was to identify the key challenges and issues faced by the petroleum industry in sourcing and attracting the required human resources in the different regions of operation. The study analysed current labour market conditions in the petroleum industry sectors and its manpower requirements, identified potential quantitative and qualitative manpower shortages and measures to address them, examined the role of educational frameworks, governments and private industry in addressing the problem, and evaluated the impacts insufficient manpower can potentially have on industries’ progress and growth. Evidence has been gathered through a survey and interviews with human resources personnel in the industry and oil & gas experts.

Mapping the skills challenges and their potential solutions. Source: Rademaekers et al. (2013) Potential Manpower Bottlenecks in the Oil & Gas Industry. Final report to the European Commission.

The study’s key findings can be summarised as follows:

  • Technical skills are the most challenging skills to source, but the shortage is broader, including financial and accountancy, business, construction, IT and project management professionals with expertise in the oil and gas industry.
  • Companies are challenged by demographic trends, e.g. an ageing population and underrepresentation of women in the industry.
  • The geographical and sectoral mobility of the workforce is increasing, but certain barriers to mobility remain.
  • The underlying drivers of the manpower bottlenecks include the increasing demand for oil and gas, the rise of unconventional oil & gas, competing for manpower with the traditional oil & gas industry, the rise of technological needs in the industry, the limited pool of skilled graduates entering the industry, entrenched attitudes and culture among industry players, and limited transfer of knowledge within the industry.

Based on this analysis, the study provided suggestions and recommendations on how government, academia and industry could address these human resource bottlenecks, which were presented at a workshop related to the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue.