Are national oil companies meeting the challenge of the talent gap?

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Deloitte: Are national oil companies meeting the challenge of the talent gap?

Press release

6 January, 2015 – Never before have national oil companies (NOCs) in the Middle East faced such a range of challenges as they seek to increase their output, efficiency and contribution from a corporate as well as a country standpoint. In a newly released Deloitte Middle East whitepaper “Deployment of nationals in a post-oil economy”, managing to recruit, retain and develop the most diverse range of talent available are some of the challenges faced in the region.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region accounted for around 50% of the world’s global oil reserves and around 40% of the global natural gas reserves in 2013, which makes the region a key player in the oil and gas industry worldwide. However, the regional oil and gas industry is facing the challenge of an ageing, soon-to-retire workforce, an underweight qualified junior talent pool, and nationalization pressures from governments to reduce heavy, costly reliance on expatriates.

“Oil and gas companies face a dilemma in that on the one hand they are being asked by governments to reduce their heavy dependence on expatriates yet they find themselves faced with a shortfall in skilled and qualified nationals with which to replace them,” said Kenneth McKellar, Partner in charge of the Energy and Resources industry at Deloitte Middle East. “There are a number of solutions out there, some which need to be taken by the companies themselves, and some by governments. When there is a combined effort from the private and public sector, the talent crisis would be on its way to being solved.”

According to the whitepaper, to address these challenges, companies can implement a number of strategies or programs designed to yield short to medium term results. These are:

  • Graduate programs: aimed at national undergraduate students offering the chance to gain diverse experience through systematic job rotations in different sectors within oil and gas, in upstream, midstream and downstream.
  • Women’s integration programs: aimed at taking advantage of an underexploited female talent pool by finding creative ways to attract women to the oil and gas industry and developing their skills.
  • Coaching programs for leaders: aimed at developing technical, commercial, and general leadership capabilities of NOC executives to help them navigate their companies through the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the oil and gas industry.
  • Partnering with universities: NOCs are partnering with and/or sponsoring local and regional universities to receive a steady stream of qualified national graduates.

“It is worth noting that women’s roles and influence in Middle Eastern national oil companies are increasing, not only out of necessity but out of desire. This is a sign that, like in other parts of the world, the Middle East is realizing the corporate and institutional benefits of female leadership, which have been clearly proven,” said McKellar. 

To target a more sustainable and nationwide solution, there is a need to build an ecosystem that would enable the deployment of national graduates in the oil and gas industry. Such an ecosystem could include:

  • Revising the education system in high schools and universities in an effort to meet society’s demand in the MENA region and to support countries’ economic visions.
  • Funding scientific research and development initiatives to spur innovation. 
  • Developing human resources initiatives that cater to the industry’s increasingly critical requirements.

“Results will not be apparent in a short timeframe – designing, recruiting for and executing a graduate program, for example, takes up to 36 months for an organization to start measuring its impact,” said McKellar. “However, by taking the lead on this issue oil and gas companies are in a position to create impact and could even set the ground for new human capital and talent management practices across the region.”

To view the whole report go to:

Press contact
Nadine El Hassan
Middle East Public Relations
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.)
Tel: +961 (0) 1 748444
Fax: +961 (0) 1 748999

About Deloitte:

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

Deloitte's professionals are unified by a collaborative culture that fosters integrity, outstanding value to markets and clients, commitment to each other, and strength from cultural diversity. They enjoy an environment of continuous learning, challenging experiences, and enriching career opportunities. Deloitte's professionals are dedicated to strengthening corporate responsibility, building public trust, and making a positive impact in their communities.

About Deloitte & Touche (M.E.):

Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence since 1926.

Deloitte is among the region’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with around 3,000 partners, directors and staff. It is a Tier 1 Tax advisor in the GCC region since 2010 (according to the International Tax Review World Tax Rankings). It has received numerous awards in the last few years which include Best Employer in the Middle East, best consulting firm, and the Middle East Training & Development Excellence Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

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