Advanced technologies like digitization, big data, automation, artificial intelligence, IoT will shape the future of the Oil and Gas industry making it more profitable and stable.
The trepidation for the industry is that the working style, skill requirements, and operation will all be different for the new age of oil and gas industry. The current system of operation will turn obsolete and numerous technological advancements will replace and challenge the traditional setup. The bigger question here is: Is oil and industry equipped to meet the changing needs of the industry? Do they have the required skillset and expertise? The answer is NO.
That’s where the relevance of millennials play a vital role. To bridge this knowledge and skill gap, the industry needs to hire and retain a fair mix of professionals from other industries including software engineers, data scientists, analysts, and other digital savvy staff.
The mindset of millennials towards oil and gas industry
Deloitte surveyed 10,000 millennials born in the year 1983 to1994 and around 2000 Gen Z were surveyed who were born from 1995 to 1999 from across the world. Here are the key findings of the report:
Millennials seek opportunities beyond eventual leadership positions and a fat paycheck. They have immense untapped potential and are ready to contribute more for the greater good. With their tech-savvy mind, they can bring in innovation and advancement at every step.
Amy Chronis, Houston managing partner for Deloitte, draws a conclusion on the survey by stating that, “I think the younger generation represents the New World Order … they represent the viewpoint of today,” “I think [diversity and inclusion] is an acute issue in terms of attracting, fostering and retaining talent. The oil and gas industry is already doing a lot of things talent-wise, but I think the survey illustrates that it needs to find better ways to communicate and engage talent in their efforts.”
How to attract and retain Millennials?
Here are a few initiatives that recruiters can take up to hire and retain millennial workforce:
Studies show that millennials look beyond paychecks. They prefer challenging new age roles and oil and gas industry can provide them the right platform. As every function of oil and gas industry is getting automated today with rapid digitization there is a need for employees who can operate in the dynamic environment. Changing the job description according to the changing needs of the industry is a way to attract the young generation.
The current perception of the oil and gas industry amongst millennials is turning off the interest of the new generation. The recruiters must work on rebranding the image of the industry. Although it is a time-taking process it’s high time the industry starts working on it. Collaboration with community colleges can play a key role in the process by developing a curriculum and imparting the right information about the industry. Additionally, social media can be leveraged to rebrand the industry. The new developments, job roles, benefits, and work expectations can be highlighted along with employee testimonials to improve the perception. The new age job roles like a data scientist, software engineers, analysts can also be advertised. Additionally, the companies can highlight their initiatives that have been taken to reduce environmental footprint to enhance its social appeal.
In a recent survey conducted by EY, millennials and generation Z rank salary, work-life balance and on-the-job happiness as the top 3 priorities in any job. The oil and gas industry ranks well in terms of compensation however it is important to understand what monetary benefits the current generation is seeking? The millennials are more interested in stock options than pensions because millennials do not believe in sticking to one job for long period to avail pension benefit, so they prefer stock options.
Other intangible needs like work-life balance and on-the-job happiness are crucial too. Some companies have recognized this need and have started offering benefits like flexible work hours, relaxed leave policy, work-from-home options and so on. Most of the oil and gas companies are still conservative in this regard but the sign of changes are evident. For instance, beginning 1 January 2018, Shell has announced a global standard of 16 weeks paid maternity leaves for its employees. Additionally, to enhance the job environment, the oil companies are following the trend of healthy dining options, green space, public transportations and even gyms.
Make clear and transparent career growth trajectory so that the millennials are aware of their career progression. When the vision is clear, reliability increases which will eventually lead to talent retention. Companies like Saudi Aramco who have 50% workforce under 30 years of age, has invested handsomely in training and development of the employee. This increases the job satisfaction level. The company also sponsors its top performers for an advanced degree at universities across the world to increase loyalty among employees. Similarly, other oil and gas companies can show clear career progression, skill development, and benefits.
It can be safely concluded that the millennials are seeking opportunities to challenge the status quo and develop innovative solutions in the traditional setup. Their inherent curiosity and initiative will fuel the oil and gas industry with breakthroughs and innovation.
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On 10 December 2021, if all goes to plan Royal Dutch Shell will become just Shell. The energy supermajor will move its headquarters from The Hague in The Netherlands to London, UK. At least three-quarters of the company’s shareholders must vote in favour of the change at the upcoming general meeting, which has been sold by Shell as a means of simplifying its corporate structure and better return value to shareholders, as well as be ‘better positioned to seize opportunities and play a leading role in the energy transition’. In doing so, it will no longer meet Dutch conditions for ‘royal’ designation, dropping a moniker that has defined the company through decades of evolution since 1907.
But why this and why now?
There is a complex web of reasons why, some internal and some external but the ultimate reason boils down to improving growth sustainability. Royal Dutch Shell was born through the merger of Shell Transport and Trading Company (based in the UK) and Royal Dutch (based in The Netherlands) in 1907, with both companies engaging in exploration activities ranging from seashells to crude oil. Unified across international borders, Royal Dutch Shell emerged as Europe’s answer to John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil empire, as the race to exploit oil (and later natural gas) reserves spilled out over the world. Along the way, Royal Dutch Shell chalked up a number of achievements including establishing the iconic Brent field in the North Sea to striking the first commercial oil in Nigeria. Unlike Standard Oil which was dissolved into 34 smaller companies in 1911, Royal Dutch Shell remained intact, operating as two entities until 2005, when they were finally combined in a dual-nationality structure: incorporated in the UK, but residing in the Netherlands. This managed to satisfy the national claims both countries make on the supermajor, second only to ExxonMobil in revenue and profits but proved to be costly to maintain. In 2020, fellow Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever also ditched its dual structure, opting to be based fully out of the City of London. In that sense, Shell is following the direction of the wind, as forces in its (soon to be former) home country turn sour.
There is a specific grievance that Royal Dutch Shell has with the Dutch government, the 15% dividend tax collected for Dutch-domiciled companies. It is the reason why Unilever abandoned Rotterdam and is now the reason why Shell is abandoning The Hague. And this point is particularly existentialist for Shell, since its share prices has been battered in recent years following the industry downturn since 2015, the global pandemic and being in the crosshairs of climate change activists as an emblem of why the world’s average temperatures are going haywire. The latter has already caused the largest Dutch state pension fund ABP to stop investing in fossil fuels, thereby divesting itself of Royal Dutch Shell. This was largely a symbolic move, but as religious figures will know, symbols themselves carry much power. To combat this, Shell has done two things. First, it has positioned itself to be at the forefront of energy transition, announcing ambitious emissions reductions plans in line with its European counterparts to become carbon neutral by 2050. Second, it is looking to bump up its dividend payouts after slashing them through the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerating share buybacks to remain the bluest of blue-chip stocks. But then, earlier this year, a Dutch court ruled that Shell’s emissions targets were ‘not ambitious enough’, ordering a stricter aim within a tighter timeframe. And the 15% dividend tax remains – even though Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government has been attempting to scrap it, with (it is presumed) some lobbying from Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.
As simplistic it is to think that Shell is leaving for London believes the citizens of the Netherlands has turned its back on the company, the ultimate reason was the dividend tax. Reportedly, CEO Ben van Buerden called up Mark Rutte on Sunday informing him of the planned move. Rutte’s reaction, it is said was of dismay. And he embarked on a last-ditch effort to persuade Royal Dutch Shell to change its mind, by immediately lobbying his government’s coalition partners to back an abolition of the dividend tax. The reaction was perhaps not what he expected, with left-wing and green parties calling Shell’s threat ‘blackmail’. With democracy drawing a line, Shell decided to walk; or at least present an exit plan endorsed by its Board to be voted by shareholders. Many in the Netherlands see Shell’s exit and the loss of the moniker Royal Dutch – as a blow to national pride, especially since the country has been basking in the glow of expanded reputation as a result of post-Brexit migration of financial activities to Amsterdam from London. The UK, on the other hand, sees Shell’s decision and Unilever’s – as an endorsement of the country’s post-Brexit potential.
The move, if passed and in its initial stages, will be mainly structural, transferring the tax residence of Shell to London. Just ten top executives including van Buerden and CFO Jessica Uhl will be making the move to London. Three major arms – Projects and Technology, Global Upstream and Integrated Gas and Renewable Energies – will remain in The Hague. As will Shell’s massive physical reach on Dutch soil: the huge integrated refinery in Pernis, the biofuels hub in Rotterdam, the country’s first offshore wind farm and the mammoth Porthos carbon capture project that will funnel emissions from Rotterdam to be stored in empty North Sea gas fields. And Shell’s troubles with activists will still continue. British climate change activists are as, if not more aggressive as their Dutch counterpart, this being the country where Extinction Rebellion was born. Perhaps more of a threat is activist investor Third Point, which recently acquired a chunk of Shell shares and has been advocating splitting the company into two – a legacy business for fossil fuels and a futures-focused business for renewables.
So Shell’s business remains, even though its address has changed. In the grand scheme of things, never mind the small matter of Dutch national pride – Royal Dutch Shell’s roadmap to remain an investment icon and a major driver of energy transition will continue in its current form. This is a quibble about money or rather, tax – that will have little to no impact on Shell’s operations or on its ambitions. Royal Dutch Shell is poised to become just Shell. Different name and a different house, but the same contents. Unless, of course, Queen Elizabeth II decides to provide royal assent, in which case, Shell might one day become Royal British Shell.
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