Petrochemicals Workforce Braces For “New Normal” In Pandemic Aftermath

Jan. 13, 2021
According to new GWTI report, the petrochemicals workforce believes social distancing, workspace flexibility and reduced headcounts are here to stay.

The fifth annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) energy recruitment and employment trends report shows the petrochemicals workforce is braced for a “new normal” in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report by Airswift and Energy Jobline reveals that 86% of those working in petrochemicals believe that life in the sector will be permanently changed by the events of the past year. In fact, 48% are convinced that the new normal is here already.

Social distancing (61%), workspace flexibility (54%) and reduced headcounts (52%) are the most commonly anticipated features of the new normal. Only 21% expect to see a long-term shift toward increased training and mentorship, despite its position as the measure respondents would most like companies to adopt as a resilience-building tactic (cited by 39%).

Janette Marx, chief executive officer at Airswift, says, “There is no denying that this has been a challenging year for the energy industry, and COVID-19-related instability is certainly being felt by the workforce. While the workforce believes the sector is resilient to change, petrochemicals businesses should ensure that the transition towards new ways of working provides as many opportunities as possible for individual professionals to develop and grow their careers.

“Training and mentorship are big parts of that, but so is digitalization,” says Marx. “It is no coincidence that the adoption of automation and digital technologies is professionals’ next most requested resilience-building measure. Petrochemicals employers must build on the positive moves they’ve made so far to be sure of a permanent impact.”

Other key report findings within petrochemicals include:

  • More professionals reported a pay increase (37%) than a decrease (24%) this year, unlike their upstream colleagues. Nonetheless, sector pay was much less buoyant than last year.
  • While professionals (56%) and hiring managers (58%) alike are optimistic of a pay increase next year, this is down from last year, when 70% of both groups expected pay to rise.
  • 87% of professionals would consider relocating to another region for their job, with career progression opportunities (43%) by far the most popular factor in attracting respondents to a new location.
  • Oil and gas and renewables remain the biggest sources of competition for talent, winning the votes of 49% and 35% of those open to switching sectors, respectively.

“Petrochemicals employers have demonstrated admirable flexibility over the past year and the dramatic increase in hand sanitizer production is just one of many examples of how a career in the sector offers the chance to make a meaningful contribution to society,” says Josh Young, director at Energy Jobline. “But to fend off competition for talent from the likes of oil and gas and renewables, firms need to prove beyond any doubt that they offer clear career paths, paved with innovative projects – and the training required to progress along them.”

Airswift and Energy Jobline surveyed 16,000 energy professionals and hiring managers in 166 countries across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals.

The report is available to download here.

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