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Sensing The Winds Of Change - What Candidates Want


9th March 2020

by
Amanda McCulloch

Wind. It has made its presence felt recently and I'm not just talking about Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.

Beyond the scope of climate change conversation and meteorological modelling, wind has been raising hopes for future job creation in the north east. In February, Subsea UK projected the recruitment of almost 9,000 people in the next 3 years as a result of increasing output from subsea SMEs and more activity in renewables, particularly offshore wind.

As a recruiter, job creation through the local supply chain is music to my ears. But the value of these jobs can only be realised through the placement of people with the right skills and attributes.

The job market has improved significantly. But the benchmark with which we have to compare it is pretty low, lest we forget how dramatically the job market was disrupted only a short time ago.

Many employers coming back to the job market discover that recruiting skilled staff is much harder than they anticipated.

The recruitment tipping point occurred during the third quarter of 2019. Teams too lean to deliver on business objectives require additional resource and this has increased job flow in earnest, across all levels.

Many employers coming back to the job market discover that recruiting skilled staff is much harder than they anticipated. There's a candidate shortage in niche areas and a lack of immediately available candidates exacerbates the difficulty of filling roles at short notice and for short term contracts.

There's a number of reasons for this including:

  • a depleted talent pipeline, as a result of training and development cuts
  • knowledge loss
  • geographic relocation.

To an increasingly confident candidate audience, employers have to work harder to dispel perceptions around lack of diversity and overly-hierarchical cultures.

To this latter point, energy industry employers can be their own worst enemy, slowing down the recruitment process through protracted decision making. It's a real turn off, particularly to the candidates who are fielding more than one offer of employment.

Role content and role potential are increasingly important to job seekers. There's also growing interest to work for a company where the business leaders act as a force for good, balancing purpose, people, planet and profits.

Sustainability is serious business and although corporate strategies are evolving (indeed we are witnessing it locally through the announcements and actions taken by companies committing to the energy transition) my sense is we're only at the beginning of a long period of change.

It is not only operational skills that must be nurtured. Change requires good leadership, where management teams bring breadth of experience, distinct skills and individual strengths to bear. There's a need to prepare our workforce for leadership. OPITO's report UKCS Workforce Dynamics: The Skills Landscape 2019 – 2025, reporting that around 75% of all managers and team leaders working in the UKCS are over 40 years old and 40% are over the age of 50.

Undoubtedly, there's tremendous employment potential, but to capitalise on the opportunities requires a change in the way we approach talent attraction, upskilling and people development.

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