The fall in the oil price has shaken an industry which protected the North-east of Scotland when recession hit the UK hardest.
Cutbacks in the oil and gas industry have given the sector pause for reflection.
While operators work hard to reduce costs, it is a balancing act and many realise that nurturing and engaging staff continues to be important, especially during the downturn.
With redundancies announced daily, remaining staff feel insecure. They need to feel confident to perform at their best.
When the industry’s fortunes revive, there will still be a need for the skilled people who made the energy industry in Scotland a world leader.
It is worrying that recent research discovered that over 70 per cent of oil and gas workers are considering pursuing work outside the UK.
A lack of job security was the main reason for workers thinking of working overseas, according to the survey by industry website Rigzone. While some movement is inevitable as workers go where the jobs are, the industry needs to work hard to attract and retain talent.
Skills Development Scotland is urging the industry to encourage more young people into the oil and gas business, particularly young women. Ensuring young people realise this industry has a long term future is vital for the longer term.
So this is a good time to market our industry to schools and colleges – to plan placements and work experience opportunities. It’s also the ideal time to focus on staff training and development, to explore new technologies and to look after existing clients.
In a global industry, we need an international perspective and an awareness of our competitors.
To remain competitive we need to motivate and train our workforce so the industry is poised for the upturn.
• Jacqueline van den Akker is the director of RedWave, a specialist recruitment company for the European oil and gas industry with offices in European oil and gas centres, including Aberdeen and the Netherlands.