By Peter Alagos
Oil and gas companies should consider creating a “Qatar value proposition” to attract more job seekers in the energy sector amid reports of a looming talent crisis in the Middle East, an industry expert said.
The Qatar value proposition, according to KPMG partner and global head (advisory, energy and natural resources) Hilda Mulock Houwer, could attract more talent in the energy sector if they get reassurance on other factors, aside from a high salary.
“The risk for Qatar is that these very talented people with skill sets that the whole world is looking for really have choices. The first thing that they are going to consider is the environment that they are going to expose their families to and that is what needs to be tackled,” Houwer told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a lecture held here recently.
Houwer pointed out that industry experts such as engineers and geoscientists are also looking to the US following the shale boom, which is expected to boost employment in North America’s energy sector by nearly 50% to 2.5mn jobs in 2015 before reaching 3mn jobs by 2020.
“You’re going to a developed country that offers fantastic housing facilities, reasonable rent prices, choices around schooling, and just the whole social environment is there to support that family. But those amenities are, perhaps, offered to a comparatively lesser extent in Qatar,” Houwer explained.
She added, “For me, this is not just where the employee should concentrate, but they should work with Qatar on a government level and say: ‘This country is still dependent on the hydrocarbon and chemical industry; what are we going to do as a country is to see what we can facilitate in Qatar to automatically attract talent?’”
This was reaffirmed by KPMG global head (talent management) Robert Bolton, who said, “The Qatar value proposition needs to work just like a company’s employee value proposition.”
Citing KPMG’s “2014 Global Talent Crisis Survey,” Bolton said the gap between a retiring workforce and the shortage of experienced, qualified people within the sector to replace them was the primary concern of the energy industry.
According to Houwer, the gap also puts the industry at risk in terms of safety and environment due to staff turnover.
“The most important factor that Qatar would be facing is the risk side around safety and environment. That, to me, is going to increase not because you’re losing skills but also training a new person for the job,” Houwer said.
Aside from safety risks, Houwer also pointed out that current education systems do not match trends in the energy sector, which fails to provide students a grasp of actual experiences in the workplace.
“It’s not only about the lack of talent but there is also scarcity in skills set and technical capability. I don’t think educational institutions are catching up with the trends,” she said.