Opinion: Recruitment strategies in energy sector focusing on skilled local talent


The Pacific region’s energy sector is experiencing growth, according to Calum Smith, Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific at the recruitment consultancy Airswift. He says the sector is creating a need to find skilled local talent, especially in the areas of digitalisation and renewables.

Airswift’s Calum Smith

A challenging economic environment has encouraged Asia Pacific companies to optimise their resources by adopting the latest practices and embracing digitalisation.

Our recent 2018 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) revealed that 64 per cent of oil and gas professionals believe digitalisation boosts efficiency in their respective sectors.

But the benefits can only be achieved if workers are equipped with the technical skills needed to manage future demand.

There is a growing skills gap looming and that means ensuring the right talent is available.


The complexity of getting the right people in the right place extends to the renewables sector, albeit for different reasons.

Renewables are the most popular destination for energy professionals on the move according to the GETI report.

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The problem is that the demand for technical skill sets on solar and wind projects far outweighs the supply.

‘To respond to this potential a change in recruitment strategies and long-term planning is required.’

A similar situation is evolving in infrastructure and mining.

Both of these sub-sectors are growing strongly. With the right skill sets and recruitment strategies, the potential is huge.


To respond to this potential, a change in recruitment strategies and long-term planning is required.

Companies are still dependent on overseas talent to support growth, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the growing skills gap requires a new approach.

Engaging local talent is key to understanding the market and securing buy-in for long-term projects.

Some governments within the Asia Pacific have recognised this, even implementing new immigration policies to encourage collaboration between business and the local communities.

‘Developing local talent encourages a sustained pool of technical skills as professionals pass on their knowledge to future generations.’

Getting it right and sourcing local talent brings many benefits for energy companies, including stronger relationships with the communities in these areas.

For example, ExxonMobil’s active recruitment of a local workforce for its Liquefied Natural Gas project in Papua New Guinea has increased local engagement and project support.

Developing local talent encourages a sustained pool of technical skills as professionals pass on their knowledge to future generations.

This in turn, enhances long-term community interest in future projects.

Localisation strategy

Developing a localisation strategy requires understanding the diverse needs of each region.

Three factors are critical for localisation to work:

  • Identify talent within the area: Organisations must find out if the required skills exist or, in an increasingly transient world, where can they be found. This is a lot easier when working with a firm that has the extensive local knowledge necessary to source the best talent.
  • Understanding the environment. Each country has a unique set of regulations and requirements. Companies need to understand these to ensure they are making the right decisions.
  • Develop programs: Local graduate schemes will help companies better connect with young graduates, but firms must tailor these to the local culture.

Calum Smith is Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific at the consultancy Airswift.

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