One of the key findings to emerge from the Brunel and Oilandgasjobsearch.com Energy Outlook 2021/22 report is a lack of application numbers, which makes it increasingly difficult for the energy industry to hire top talent and plug those widening skill shortages. And with almost 1 in 3 recruiters saying that their biggest challenge is an ageing workforce, it is clear that energy companies must look at ways to improve their talent acquisition strategies. So how can they make the energy sector more attractive to the new generation of young professionals on the cusp of their career?
Attracting new talent
With the war for talent fierce, energy companies must carefully review their employee value propositions (EVPs) and benefits packages if they are to entice emerging talent to join the sector. Research from the Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z survey revealed that 40% of Gen Y millennials and Gen Z ‘zoomers’ felt let down by the wellbeing support they received from employers during COVID times, when they needed it most. Even before the pandemic, half of Gen Zs (48%) and millennials (44%) were struggling with high stress levels ‘most or all of the time’.
Furthermore, emerging generations have a very clear desire to work for companies with a strong track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion. The Deloitte report also found that almost 6 in 10 Gen Zs (56%) feel that systemic racism is widespread with under a quarter (23%) saying that they had experienced discrimination in the workplace. As well as implementing blind hiring processes and systems, leaders must be more open to hiring people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, people who can demonstrate the potential to grow even if they don’t quite fulfil all the job description requirements.
And while some felt that the damage to the environment was irreversible, they would be more likely to buy from companies with a good record and a firm stance on environmental, social and governance (ESG). Indeed, climate change is still one of their biggest concerns, so organisations that aren’t doing their bit for the planet will be avoided by the new generations. Knowing that their companies are making an impact on society and their wider communities is one of the biggest selling points for millennials and Gen Zs. A robust corporate governance framework is also very important.
One of the big advantages that the renewable energy sector has over oil and gas is the appeal of cleaner energy sources – two thirds of Gen Zs said they would apply for green jobs. As long as the oil and gas industry, which accounts for 42% of global emissions, can continue to implement practices to reduce carbon emissions, it will reap the benefits and be better able to attract quality candidates. No matter which segment of the energy sector you specialise in, though, employers must ensure that they offer exciting career and development opportunities, driven by an innovative culture that’s underpinned by the use of cutting-edge technologies.
Tackling global skill shortages in the energy sector
The onset of digitalisation and artificial intelligence has spawned a growing demand for tech talent across many industry sectors, so it is even more important for energy companies to invest in their IT and tech infrastructure. Graduate and apprenticeship programmes will help them to recruit and develop their STEM graduates, offering them the opportunities to use their digital and computer programming skills in different, developing and key disciplines, such as data science, data analytics and cybersecurity. In so doing, retention rates will also improve among younger workers.
While upskilling their current existing workforces will play its part in plugging the acute skills gaps in the energy sector, the evidence points to more needing to be done to promote Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths or 'STEM careers' – encouraging school leavers, and in particular girls, to continue their university studies in these subjects. Company initiatives include partnering with schools and higher education institutions and attending university fairs to showcase their careers, making them more appealing to under-represented women and minority groups.
As well as a focus on digital and tech systems, investing in training and career development, prioritising wellbeing and D&I and demonstrating a clear organisational vision and purpose, energy firms must also offer excellent remuneration and benefits packages to fend off the competition.
Reputation and corporate social responsibility mean everything to the Gen Z generation, especially a company’s credentials when it comes to the environment and switching to cleaner, greener, renewable energy sources. If companies in the energy sector can cater for the career and work-life requirements of young workers, promote STEM jobs and boost female workforce participation in the industry, they are setting themselves up for success. But they will be judged on their actions, not words.