Recently, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been instability in most jobs in the oil and gas field. In fact, many industry professionals around the world have been victims of salary deductions or lost jobs as a result of the low production in the industry. This has not only resulted in a series of staff eliminations, but has also generated a new niche in the job market in the oil and gas field.

General Overview of the Current Job Market in the Oil & Gas Field

To begin with, the impacts on the job market in the oil and gas field as a result of the Coronavirus, while problematic, have been tolerable considering other sectors that have taken a harder hit. The pandemic has shown to have a huge negative effect on the job market in the hospitality sector, wholesale and retail sector, manufacturing sector, construction sector, transportation (including aviation activities) and storage sector. The main factor that all of these sectors have in common is the need for employees and consumers (or customers) to be physically available for such goods or services.

According to an article published by BBC, the recent unemployment dip in the oil and gas sector has resulted in a 25% decrease in the total numbers of hours completed by employees as a result of low demand and low production. However, this does not necessarily imply that there is no demand for employees. Various studies have been carried out over the course of the last couple of months, indicating that the presence of the Coronavirus has created a new niche for certain jobs in the oil and gas sector.

Employment in the Oil & Gas Sector

In the oil and gas sector, specifically, it is assumed that nearly every one in five oil and gas employees have been terminated over the last quarter (Q2) in 2020, as reported by BBC. For companies that have minimal to no cash flow, employers find difficulty in supporting employees at low revenues. In fact, nearly 30% or more of employees have faced salary cuts to ensure that most employees can get most of their salary (as an alternate solution to laying off employees). Taking this into consideration, it is important to note that employees in the oil and gas field underTech Support, Healthy Safety and Environment (HSE) as well as Transportation departments are sought out during this time as their role becomes more imperative. More or less, it can be said that there has been a shift in the market depending on the importance of the job type.

The New Niche

Nevertheless, it is crucial to indicate that, while Tech Support, HSE and Transportation jobs are not new to the oil and gas sector, their importance has increased greatly over the last several months. In fact, there has been more demand for experts in this field than any other to ensure that operations continue running as smooth as possible.

Each department in demand has the potential to provide their respective companies with essential contributions during the unprecedented times. For instance, the role of Tech Support employees is mainly to ensure that communications tools are up and running at all levels, and that all activities involving machines or equipment that can be operated remotely to remain operational and fully-functional. As for HSE employees in the oil and gas field, it is essential that operations that require physical presence run safely; this entails ensuring that staff are sterilized efficiently and have taken precautions to avoid contamination while attempting to create a ‘business-as-usual’ atmosphere. Finally, Transport staff (i.e. drivers) are fundamental personnel during times where online deals, deliveries, and the storage of consumer goods need to be taken care of effectively. The importance of such jobs will remain crucial Post-Coronavirus to ensure that operations continue smoothly.

Case Study

At the moment, the oil and gas sector has seen some of the highest cuts in employees as a result of both, the Coronavirus pandemic as well as the recent plunge in oil prices. Keeping this in mind, oil and gas companies are finding it more and more difficult to keep employees (along with their respective salaries), especially with the recent low cash flow rates.

Currently, companies are seeking alternate solutions that create compromises between the company and its employees. For example, in the second half of March of 2020, Halliburton (in Houston, Texas) took a decision to furlough nearly 4,000 employees. With operations running at minimal capacity, Halliburton viewed this decision as a compromise between laying off essential workers and continuing to pay salaries in their entirety. While the response to this decision was controversial, many argue that this decision has, at least, reduced employees’ concerns to find a new job during such versatile and unpredictable times.

The Way Forward

As per a study conducted by Forbes, there are some essential skills that most employees should develop Post-Coronavirus in order to become more versatile to the fast-paced changes of the job market in the oil and gas field. This concept is meant to be considered a preventative precaution and not just when disaster strikes, in order to soften the blow.

Surprisingly, most skills are relevant to Tech Support, HSE and Transportation employees. For example, Forbes mentions the top essential skills to develop include innovative skills (i.e. ability to adapt to new situations given the circumstances), data literacy (i.e. the ability to read and analyse given data), critical thinking (i.e. the skill that enables employees to make responsible decisions and analyse situations carefully), adaptability (i.e. the ability to accommodate for negative or positive impacts), and – most importantly – emotional intelligence (i.e. the skill that encourages a positive atmosphere and the ability to connect with others during difficult times). As stated by an anonymous source in the talent acquisition field, “of course, there are always changes in oil and gas because of the field is very flexible. Now, the Coronavirus shows that no matter what job you have, it is important to become flexible and try to do capacity building exercises or find a way to work on skills that we never knew were important.” By developing such crucial skills, employees become more flexible and open-minded to changes and difficulties in the work space.

To conclude, the current availability of job niche markets within the oil and gas sector is affected by the plunge in global demand and the recent Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, in the oil and gas sector, the jobs with the highest demand are those within Tech Support, HSE and Transportation departments due to their importance during times where remote operations are necessary and minimal physical presence is crucial. To summarize, the unpredictable shift in the market should encourage employees to develop their skills for Post-Coronavirus and better economical situations.