By Sarah Samir

Since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced 2016 to be “the year of the Egyptian youth,” the state’s major economic sectors have been paying attention to young professionals. The oil and gas sector, in particular, has been taking significant initiatives to empower youth and help them draw their career path.

The sector’s companies are focusing interest on listening to younger generations, as well as on giving them the tools to turn their creative thoughts into technical, productive reality, further helping them enjoy equal opportunities and promotions.

Hiring Young Professionals

While people in the 20th century were competing to work in the thriving oil and gas sector, more recent generations are losing interest.  About “14% of millennials say they would not want to work in the oil and gas industry because of its negative image,” according to an article by Christopher Handscomb; Scott Sharabura; and Jannik Woxholth, entitled “The Oil and Gas Organization of the Future.”

As the article explained, “millennials do not just want personal career growth; they expect to make a positive contribution to society,” concluding that “the 14% is the highest percentage of people uninterested throughout different sectors.”

In 2016, “approximately 21% of the oil and gas workforce was aged 55 or older,” according to EY’s article entitled ‘Recruiting during a Downturn’. Therefore, it became a big challenge for companies to replace this expertise.

Yet, as oil prices remain high, it is a chance for firms to understand “that their long-term competitiveness depends upon their ability to attract good talent today, and to address millennials, who will be the near future young engineers,” according to the article. Hence, oil and gas companies started to develop an interest in hiring new talents, training them, and helping them learn and gain experience.

For that purpose, some firms have developed new strategies to attract young professionals to join their teams. “Weatherford, for example, has been offering trainings for fresh engineers for years, where the company provides attractive packages during the training and after the hiring,” Haitham Fawzy, Former HR Supervisor at Weatherford, told Egypt Oil & Gas. The company further “provides attractive benefits like medical insurance, life insurance, car allowance, mobile allowance, and transportation for all staff,” he added.

Fawzy further stressed that Weatherford does not face challenges during the hiring process of young professionals and fresh graduates as the company provides “training program for fresh engineers to join, as well as other support functions that are available through social media and other recruitment websites.”

The company hires young engineers based on “their basic education, attitude, and culture during the interview phase, in compliance with the company’s needs,” Fawzy explained. “The company often faces some challenges in finding engineers for advanced/senior positions,” he pointed out.

In order to enhance the programs for young professionals, oil and gas firms should further address youth views and needs through identifying with their “culture, benefits, training, career planning, and the work environment,” to be able to attract millennials to work for them, EY’s article explained.

A Successful Path

Looking at attracting young cadres to the oil and gas industry, it became important for the firms to help their employees draw a clear path and climb the employment ladder.

“Weatherford Company had a specific job capsules, which are briefs for the job description for every single job and the requirements for any kind of promotion, as well as career path steps such as the needed certifications, type of training, and years of experience,” Fawzy stated.

Upon meeting the requirements, a Weatherford candidate would “get assessed by the Performance Appraisal System and if [the candidate] received the Exceeding Expectations or Exceptional, then he gets promoted, if available, or switched  to another department, or sometimes transferred to another branch abroad,” Fawzy continued.

It is important for oil and gas firms to develop the strength points of its employees to help them progress. “[The Middle East Oil Refinery (MIDOR)’s] management helped me develop my leadership qualities, increase my knowledge and improve my reporting skills through the completion of significant assignments,” Senior Coker Operation Engineer at Egyptian Projects Operation and Maintenance (EPROM)/MIDOR Refinery, Kareem El Semary, told Egypt Oil & Gas.

Following the same steps, Total Company helps its employees draw their career path through the support of “accessible human resources personnel, as well as job opportunities. All of the [Total] employees can leverage a range of tools and in-house contacts to build their own career paths,” according to the company’s website.

The French company boosts internal mobility, especially for its management positions. It further provides its people a job posting intranet, on which they can “submit an application for open positions anywhere in the world, with the assurance that they will receive priority consideration,” as the company highlighted.

During the preparatory trainings, “the main challenge is getting trainees to understand everything that they are being presented,” El Semary said. “Job trainings should be focused on providing the most essential information and making it easy to absorb … Filling training with unimportant information is a waste of time and makes it difficult to focus on what is truly important,” he added.

Retaining Young Professionals

Besides programs to enhance young professionals’ skills, oil and gas companies should further give retention special attention. The first period of employment can be the most challenging for fresh-graduate engineers, which can be discouraging for the younger generations of petroleum employees.

“The type of the work environment in the oil and gas companies is a great challenge to deal with. Each person has to be aware of it and follow the company’s procedures in order to maintain plant conditions within safe operating limits. A person has to determine the severity of problems, troubleshoots, and resolve or refer to appropriate technical staff to determine root cause analysis and correction,” El Semary explained.

Additionally, it is vital for every person working in the oil and gas field to understand “the importance of safety procedures and not to improvise, which could be a new thing for fresh graduates, and could discourage some youth from continuing to work  in the sector,” he noted.

However, young professionals do not usually seek quitting their jobs, and most of those who do, quit for better job offers, as Fawzy said. “The company could help [the youth] by developing [the young employees’] skills and enhancing their experience with the ongoing training and coaching. In addition, there must be a clear career path with a list of requirements that are applicable and running on the actual basis, which is the most powerful tool not only to retain them, but also to motivate them while they are working in the company.”

With training and engagement, oil and gas companies can reach out for younger generations, address their needs, and help them make profit out of their creative, ongoing train of thoughts. The firms should further help employees grow in their career path, and thus, benefit the industry at large.