GETI 2021: petrochemicals professionals believe “new normal” has already arrived

  • Petrochemicals workforce believes social distancing, workspace flexibility and reduced headcounts are here to stay
  • 61 per cent of respondents believe the sector is resilient to the changes it faces
  • Training and mentorship is the resilience-building measure most requested by professionals

LONDON, UK, 12 January 2021, The fifth annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI), the world’s largest energy recruitment and employment trends report, is released today, showing that the petrochemicals workforce is braced for a “new normal” in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report by Airswift, the global workforce solutions provider for the energy, process and infrastructure sectors, and Energy Jobline, the world’s leading jobsite for the energy and engineering industries, reveals that 86 per cent of those working in petrochemicals believe that life in the sector will be permanently changed by the events of the past year. In fact, 48 per cent are convinced that the new normal is here already. 

Social distancing (61 per cent), workspace flexibility (54 per cent) and reduced headcounts (52 per cent) are the most commonly anticipated features of the new normal. Only 21 per cent expect to see a long-term shift towards increased training and mentorship, despite its position as the measure respondents would most like companies to adopt as a resilience-building tactic (cited by 39 per cent).


Janette Marx, Chief Executive Officer at Airswift, says: “There is no denying that this has been a challenging year for the energy industry, and COVID-19-related instability is certainly being felt by the workforce. While the workforce believes the sector is resilient to change, petrochemicals businesses should ensure that the transition towards new ways of working provides as many opportunities as possible for individual professionals to develop and grow their careers.

“Training and mentorship are big parts of that, but so is digitalisation. It is no coincidence that the adoption of automation and digital technologies is professionals’ next most requested resilience-building measure. Petrochemicals employers must build on the positive moves they’ve made so far to be sure of a permanent impact.”

In addition to providing much-needed insights into the uncertainty posed by the events of the past 12 months, GETI is also the industry’s most comprehensive salary and mobility study. Key findings within petrochemicals include:

  • More professionals reported a pay increase (37 per cent) than a decrease (24 per cent) this year, unlike their upstream colleagues. Nonetheless, sector pay was much less buoyant than last year
  • While professionals (56 per cent) and hiring managers (58 per cent) alike are optimistic of a pay increase next year, this is down on last year, when 70 per cent of both groups expected pay to rise
  • Eighty-seven per cent of professionals would consider relocating to another region for their job, with career progression opportunities (43 per cent) by far the most popular factor in attracting respondents to a new location
  • Oil and gas and renewables remain the biggest sources of competition for talent, winning the votes of 49 per cent and 35 per cent of those open to switching sectors, respectively

Josh Young, Director at Energy Jobline, says: “Petrochemicals employers have demonstrated admirable flexibility over the past year and the dramatic increase in hand sanitiser production is just one of many examples of how a career in the sector offers the chance to make a meaningful contribution to society. But to fend off competition for talent from the likes of oil and gas and renewables, firms need to prove beyond any doubt that they offer clear career paths, paved with innovative projects – and the training required to progress along them.”

Airswift and Energy Jobline surveyed 16,000 energy professionals and hiring managers in 166 countries across five industry sub-sectors: oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals. The report is available to download at

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