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As optimism returns to the wider economy, the sector is seeing returning confidence. This is leading to greater levels of recruitment and a growing number of employees seriously considering their future options. In our report we examine the issues arising from this and what the industry and organisations within it need to do in order to prepare themselves.
With heightened competition in a global labour market and increased relocation in the UK it becomes even more important that employers understand the key issues and what specifically they need to address. This report gives some clear indications on where organisations need to focus time and attention.
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|Request your copy of the 2014 Hays Energy Salary Guide|
The Hays Energy Salary & Benefits Guide 2014, produced in partnership with the Energy Institute (EI), reveals that most workers in this key industry are happy with their current role.
Yet employers remain concerned about skills shortages and must do more to boost their employer brand to retain and attract the very best people to meet their business objectives.
The survey covers the oil and gas, nuclear, renewables, biomass, biofuels, utilities and combined heat and power (CHP) markets as well as energy demand and efficiency. Members of the Energy Institute accounted for 56% of all respondents.
Of the 1,091 people who responded, 30% saw their salary rise broadly in line with the cost of living in 2013 at between 2%-3%.
Yet one quarter (25%) had no increase, 2% saw their pay cut and 10% received a pay rise of up to 1%.
Those with the qualifications and specialist skills that employers crave, such as project managers and specialist engineers, have continued to do well in the pay stakes. Despite the economic gloom, 10% were awarded a rise of between 6%-10% and 10% enjoyed a jump of more than 10%.
There remains a mismatch between the benefits professionals value and the ones offered by employers, but more flexible benefits are being introduced to accommodate workers’ calls for a better work-life balance.
During 2014 employers must communicate more effectively with their workers to discover which benefits will retain them and which will help to attract new talent. Some women are still put off working for energy organisations by poor child care support, while many employees in the Gen Y demographic would welcome longer term incentives which would benefit them.
Energy workers want more access to personal development opportunities, including help to achieve professional qualifications or the chance to attend industry events that would benefit their career.
Recruitment is an increased priority for 46% of organisations and retention is more important for 33%. The priority for 2014 is to hire people with at least five years’ experience. This means companies must ensure their employer brand is strong. They must be proud of their achievements and demonstrate clearly during the recruitment process their strengths and the career opportunities available to attract, for instance, the best engineers.
When asked what, apart from salary, is the most important factor when considering a new role, 31% said career development and 23% a new challenge. Yet employers can struggle to prise good people away from their current role if an individual’s pay and benefits are already attractive. Some 59% are satisfied with their current job and 45% have worked at the same company for between one and five years and 13% for between 11-20 years.
However, there is evidently more work to do on employee engagement because the number of men and women who would recommend their energy organisation to a friend as an employer fell from 62% in 2011 to 56% last year.
The most common salary band amongst respondents is between £41,000-£60,000, although about one quarter of respondents receives more than £80,000 a year and 6% more than £150,000. There is evidence of a gender pay gap with only 12% of women earning between £61,000 and £80,000 compared with 16% of men, although this also reflects the lack of women in specialist and senior roles.
The contractor market remains strong and people with about 10 years’ experience choosing this career path can earn almost double the permanent salaries offered in sectors such as electrical transmission and distribution (T&D), power generation and nuclear.
Two thirds of all respondents received a performance-related bonus in 2013.
Employers need to research which benefits employees truly value to retain and recruit talent because this can vary by age and personal and professional circumstances. Our report shows a clear difference between what employees want and what they receive and this needs to be addressed by organisations with some urgency.
To many, family-friendly benefits such as an on-site crèche are more important to them than health insurance, for example, while younger workers would like share options or similar. Older workers who are persuaded to remain in the industry because of skills shortages are now in a powerful position to dictate their benefits package. Clearly their needs will differ to those of other demographics.
Women in energy
Energy remains a male-dominated business but more women are entering the renewables and sustainability sectors as environmental consultants, energy managers and analysts.
A separate survey by the EI of 380 female members found that many women felt they were still perceived as a novelty in the industry, demonstrating how an employer was addressing the gender issue. Yet the skill and qualification level of women working in energy is high.
Transferable skills and qualifications
Energy employers are prepared to hire people with transferable skills and provide training if they cannot find the specialists they need.
Qualified electrical and mechanical engineers are moving into energy from industries such as aerospace and defence, but employers must cast their recruitment net wider. For example, engineers from the machining industries are being hired by the nuclear sector because of their ability to work on very technical design projects.
Industry qualifications are helping people to progress with 36% of men and 50% of women having a master’s. Some 10% have a technical diploma or similar and 9% have achieved chartered professional status.
New technologies combined with more regulation and compliance mean skills gaps in energy will continue. Competition for skills is global and the shortage of talent is one of the biggest challenges for all energy sectors. Corporate restructures took place during the economic downturn and as work picks up, gaps in the workforce are becoming apparent.
Solutions for 2014 will include more collaboration between companies and a greater investment in training. As an example, some 73% of respondents want a greater investment in the training of internal staff and 65% want a more effective transfer of knowledge from older workers.
Despite concerns about skills shortages and an aging workforce, the emphasis remains on hiring experienced people because projects must be completed quickly and effectively. The issue here is potentially exacerbating the skills shortage by not giving younger engineers the experience they need.
Some 34% of employers expect to hire additional people with at least five years’ experience. A massive 70% do not expect to recruit any apprentices and 41% have no plans to hire graduates. Ideally organisations prefer to hire more permanent staff to build effective