Energy execs seek to stem workforce exodus

13 February 2008 23:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Energy industry executives said on Wednesday they must step up efforts to recruit skilled workers to ease an upcoming shortage caused by an early wave of retirements.

The panel discussion at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) refining and energy forum focused on solutions to stem the outgoing tide of skilled Baby Boom generation workers who were born from 1946-1964.

“The exodus is imminent,” said CERA Associate Director Mike Wynne. “This results in a reduced ability to execute major projects. It puts a greater dependence on internal and external remote expertise.”

The declining workforce has created a need to accelerate recruitment and interaction with universities, he said.

Dave Bozeman, manager of project support for Devon Energy, went further and said the industry needed to generate interest in high schools for engineering and geosciences.

“Internship programmes are still a priority for Devon,” Bozeman said.

Strong compensation for employees was necessary for retaining skilled workers, Bozeman said, but it may have also compounded the problem of attrition, as some people have been able to retire early due to generous salaries, bonuses, and 401k programmes. 

Craig Hodges, Microsoft’s director of energy, said new recruits have their own demands and expectations.

Recruits expect to find experts within the company instantly, want exposure to multiple disciplines and want a rapid transfer of knowledge from older workers, Hodges said.

Unified global communication and mobility was also needed to recruit and retain employees, Hodges said.

Wynne said that flexibility and the potential to work from home in some cases could benefit retention and recruitment.

By: Brian Balboa
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