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Energy & Resources Market Overview
A year in review…
Australia's Energy & Resources market has experienced significant change over the past 12 months as the investment phase of the mining boom has tapered off and transitioned to more of an operational optimisation phase. Overall construction project volumes are down, taking pressures off talent pools and improving candidate quality for clients.
The Oil & Gas market too has changed significantly as detailed design and engineering continues to be moved offshore to cheaper regions due to high local labour costs, and with a lack of new major offshore projects entering the market, the industry is making a shift to more of a brownfield's maintenance focus.
Due to a softening in demand in the resources space, managing candidates' expectations around salary and conditions has presented new challenges to employers. From what was a highly competitive market, momentum has now swung back to clients, who are now being much more selective when hiring, with greater expectations around experience and qualifications, without the flexibility to meet candidates' unrealistic salary expectations of days gone by.
As a result candidates must be flexible and open to negotiation when considering new opportunities, and appreciate that the level of competition is now much greater when compared to the buoyant times of 2012. Further to this, the employment process has become longer with employers being very careful in their selection of new staff.
Adapt to survive…
The specialist and senior end of the market has also been affected by the current market slow down, with employers taking longer to recruit rather than acting quickly to secure hard to find talent. Some employers who have traditionally been comfortable with contract hires are moving to a greater desire for more full time/permanent appointments to control salary costs and gain a greater level of commitment from potential employees. In contrast some more traditional fulltime/permanent employers have become more open to contract hire staff, as a way of trialling new staff and their experience and fit to the team, before offering them a full time position.
For candidates it's important that they remain open to considering all employment scenarios, and be willing to adapt to the companies process for hire. Interview processes can be frustratingly slow, and at times make you wonder if a company is serious about recruiting however our advice is that those who remain engaged and proactive thorough the process are more likely to achieve a desire result and offer of employment.
With the recent pull back in the Mining sector, the current available talent pool exceeds demand in most sectors, resulting in greater competition for jobs. The result of this has been an increase in workload for those hiring, with applications for roles having increased an average of 35% in the last year. Managers are having to spend an increasing amount of time filtering through applications to find suitable candidates, thus increasing the importance of candidates having a well written, well presented CV.
There are however skill shortages in specific Oil & Gas markets such as Exploration (Geology and Geophysics) at a mid-to-senior level, and certain specialisms within Drilling and Completions such as Cementing, Slickline Operations and Fracturing at all levels of seniority. Demand in these sectors has exceeded supply for the past few years due to an increase in drilling activity in Australasia, and continues to exceed supply, despite the training programs put in place by operators and service companies to overcome the deficit.
The year ahead…
The market is moving increasingly towards a focus on Maintenance, Reliability and Asset Integrity/Optimisation. Construction will continue for the Wheatstone and Ichthys projects whilst multiple other projects remain on hold. Subsea installation, maintenance and construction is continuing as a strong market whereas design and FEED for Subsea Field Development and hardware continue to be moved offshore.
There are moderate stirrings of activity and optimism from pockets in the market and an increasing expectation and hope that the number of jobs available from the second quarter of 2014 will increase. Larger maintenance contracts recently awarded by some of the major oil and gas operators will only impact the jobs market in August 2014 and the numbers will be in the thousands.
The Oil & Gas industry will present the biggest opportunity for candidates over the next year, with the biggest lack of skills being in Fracturing. Hydraulic Fracturing is a practise which is still in its infancy in Australasia with relatively minor operations up to this point. With the increasing discovery of Shale Gas in South Australia, and advances in offshore fracturing technologies making their way to our shores, candidates with Fracturing experience in either a Technical Engineering or Field Operations capacity will find pockets of opportunity available to them over the next 6 - 12 months.
With Australia's excellent safety culture and legislation regarding safe work practices, Candidates in the HSE Field will continue to see a consistent stream of senior opportunities over the coming year across Oil & Gas and Mining once construction and expansion projects return again and gain momentum throughout 2014.
Make yourself stand out from the competition…
In the current market, where the number of job seekers exceeds the number of committed roles on offer, it is imperative that candidates take steps to differentiate themselves from the competition. Looking at each stage of the process separately and considering how candidates can set themselves apart from the rest is a must.
For example rather than taking the "spray and pray" approach applicants need to asses each role individually, do their research, and tailor the cover letter and/or CV accordingly. Format and layout of the CV is equally important as hiring managers who have to trawl through CVs for the pertinent information are likely to disregard the application quickly if no care has been taken with its presentation.
In conjunction with this, follow up with the relevant party within a reasonable time-frame is advisable in the current market. Likewise once candidates reach that all important interview process, having a thorough understanding of the business and articulating this can be a key differentiator. Making small, yet considered assessments at each stage of the process can make all the difference.
Attract the best talent…
Given that the 2014 market looks set to start off slow and ramp up as we move further into the year, employers looking to attract the best talent need to set the wheels in motion early or risk going without. As the market heats up, inevitably the pool of high calibre candidates will start to shrink, and it will most certainly be a case of "first in, best dressed" from a candidate attraction perspective.
Failing to start formulating a clear picture of the skill gaps within the business, the current teams' abilities versus the workload ahead, and engaging the agency to deliver early on in the piece is likely to result in missing out on the cream of the crop as 2014 progresses.