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GETI 2023: inflation hampering petrochemical hiring efforts

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The seventh annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI), the world’s most established and comprehensive energy workforce trends report, has found that the petrochemicals sector has been hit hardest by soaring supply chain costs, and suffered the worst resulting skills shortages of any energy sector.

The report by Airswift, the global workforce solutions provider to the STEM industries, finds that amidst a global inflation crisis, 44% of petrochemicals workers say their companies have faced disruption from rising supply chain costs – the highest proportion among any energy sector.

Petrochemicals skills and salaries are also the worst affected, with 44% saying this disruption has reduced or delayed recruitment and retention of talent, while 41% report that it has also impacted salaries and benefits, the worst of any energy sector. With remuneration and benefits cited by workers as the main factor affecting their job satisfaction, this could also hamper recruitment and retention.

Amidst recent gas shortages and with petrochemicals heavily reliant on oil and gas for its feedstocks, the sector has also been the second hardest hit by energy security challenges. Petrochemicals respondents are also the most likely to say that economic disruption has affected investment in technology and digitalisation, indicating that inflation is also slowing the sector’s digital modernisation.

However, rising skills shortages and rebounding demand for petrochemical products have seen salaries soaring, with half of petrochemicals workers receiving a pay rise in 2022, the largest proportion in the industry. Over a fifth say salaries have risen over 5%. With workers reporting that job satisfaction is closely tied to remuneration, high current salaries mean job satisfaction is currently high, on 67%.

Janette Marx, CEO at Airswift, says: “Inflation has driven up supply chain costs and diverted resources from recruitment and retention. The fact that economic disruption has set back digital transformation could also indirectly affect recruitment with technologies such as collaborative engineering software essential to the flexible working valued by modern employees. The sector needs to embrace innovations such as open and connected data to deliver the transparency and flexibility valued by a younger generation of workers.”

Further key findings within petrochemicals include:

  • The workforce is among the most settled of any energy sector, with 57% not considering any move outside the petrochemicals sector.
  • Of the minority seeking a move outside the energy industry, technology is the most popular choice.
  • Respondents are split over how the energy transition has affected their jobs, with 20% saying their job has changed and they enjoy it less – the highest of any sector.

Ujjal Mukherjee, Chief Technology Officer at Lummus Technology, says: “We see increasingly multi-faceted roles combining chemical engineering with artificial intelligence and new innovations such as carbon capture and storage that could appeal to a younger generation. Petrochemicals firms should highlight the sector’s pivotal role decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors such as aviation to attract a new workforce that supports green innovation.”

Airswift interviewed sector experts and surveyed 10 000 energy professionals and hiring managers of 149 nationalities across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals.

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