Sector News

Opinion: Until oil reaches a steady $60 the North Sea jobs market won’t improve

January 6, 2016

The latest Adzuna jobs report confirms what many in the energy, oil and gas industry have suspected – there are fewer jobs available today than a year ago, and the jobs that are available aren’t paying as much as they used to.

The extent of the drop is of real concern however, as falling oil prices have led to a huge drop off in short term investment and therefore employment prospects.

Salaries in some other categories have also reduced – across all jobs there was a 4.1% drop in advertised pay in 2015 – but energy sector jobs have performed worse than any other, with a 12% year-on-year fall in salaries from £46,815 to £41,193. The 36% fall in vacancies (from 6,720 to 4,286) was also worse than anywhere else.

The trend has been going on for a while – Adzuna hasn’t recorded a year-on-year rise in oil & gas salaries since January 2014.

The number of vacancies have also been on a protracted downward trend, with only one month of year-on-year growth in the last thirty (in September 2014). After such a long decline, how much further can salaries and vacancies fall and when will they rise again?

The short answer of course: when oil prices improve.

The optimism of the SNP in August 2014, who based their economic argument for independence on the belief that Scotland was on the cusp of a second oil boom, seems a world away now. Instead, we are reminded that we are at the mercy of instability in the Middle East.

We shouldn’t expect investment in the Scottish oil industry at current prices.

Until oil prices can reach and remain steady at $60 a barrel or more the job market here is unlikely to improve.

There is also the F word. While fracking remains deeply controversial amongst the general public, a report that fracking could create 64,000 jobs in the UK may flatter energy, oil and gas job figures in the future.

But uncertainty remains – there is debate about the quality and quantity of fracking jobs – not to mention the opponents trying to stall fracking plans and debates about whether fracking is now uneconomic.

While we find plenty of reason to be confident about the UK job market as a whole going into 2016, optimism for the oil, energy and gas sector should be cautious at best.

Those in employment would do well to hold on to their positions, and others may need to consider retraining or finding other work until the market turns.

And companies who can take a long view and invest now may well have their pick of the best staff.

Doug Monro co-founded the job search engine with Andrew Hunter in 2011. Its data powers the Number 10 Dashboard, used by the Prime Minister and senior officials to keep track of economic growth on a daily basis.

Source: Energy Voice

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