Workforce nationalisation takes hold across oil markets

In oil-rich markets from Angola to Qatar, recruiters and employers are reacting to government pushes to see a higher proportion of the workforce made up of native-born workers.

Fri, 11 Oct 2013

In oil-rich markets from Angola to Qatar, recruiters and employers are reacting to government pushes to see a higher proportion of the workforce made up of native-born workers.

A principal consultant at oil & gas recruiter Laking Group, part of Phaidon International, says the firm had “noticed this trend especially in Malaysia and India”.

Consultant Edmon Wood continues: “Oil companies in these resource rich areas are becoming more stringent on the talent they hire due to pressures from the government pushing for nationalisation. The aim is to run efficiently without depending on expats.”

Meanwhile, recruiter ReThink Energy says that in response to new targets in Angola asking oil & gas firms to employ 70% local staff, it has developed a series of ongoing free training course to help local jobseekers and professionals enhance their career.

Alan Darling, practice manager at ReThink Energy, says: “The government commitment to addressing this skills gap by rebuilding the school system will go a long way to assist this fast growing economy.

“However, it’s the responsibility of those global organisations in Angola to assist the current workforce and bring more local talent on board.” It is also, as Recruiter was told earlier this year in our Sector Analysis on oil & gas, the imperative that companies ensure integration and knowledge-sharing between the local and expatriate talent.

Another project for ReThink is bringing globally mobile talent back home. The organisation is holding a further event for Angolan nationals studying in London in November.

As noted in Recruiter magazine earlier this year, reversing or avoiding brain drain is also a priority in markets such as Ghana.

The trend spreads into markets beyond oil – terms such as Saudisation, Qatarisation and Omanisation will be familiar to avid readers of, as describing the push in these markets to bring more nationals into the private sector.

A report last year from Kasim Randeree, a senior research at the University of Oxford, notes that the six Gulf Cooperation Council states have all “become reliant on migrant workers” in recent decades, with Qatar and the UAE “at the extremity of the situation”.

In ‘Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States', he also notes that while much has been written and said on the reasons why these states are looking to nationalise their workforce, “only a limited body of knowledge exists to guide and shape the success of such schemes”.

Whatever the country, or indeed the industry, when there is insufficient talent in a given area, the problem always ends up with recruiters.

Looking back to India and Malaysia specifically, Kieran Behan, a director at Laking, notes: “The local managerial talent is limited and this drives the cost up as competition for these candidates is rife.”

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