Australia's oil and gas sector is about to reap the rewards and employment benefits of an estimated $42 billion in capital expenditure over recent years, heavily concentrated across the north of the country.
This will mean a rapid move from the construction phase to production phase, with a resulting rise in average wages.
"There's obviously going to be a skills shortage in Australia because we haven't been in this phase before,” says David George, regional director for Michael Page in Western Australia.
He expects to see strong demand for workers at all levels, from technicians on the front lines to the office towers in Perth and Brisbane, especially at the mid-range operational levels. “One of the biggest growth areas will be for qualified engineers with five years-plus experience – production engineers, petroleum engineers," he says.
A rise in salaries
According to the 2014/15 Michael Page Australia Salary & Employment Forecast the majority of salaries are expected to rise by around 5 percent over current levels.
"In 2014 we were recruiting asset integrity engineers for large organisations for roles that were paying around $150,000. Moving into 2015 we expect these jobs to be more consistently paying $170,000," says George.
Bonuses, often reserved for executive level positions in the past, are set to become more widely paid, with 75% of companies offering the incentive as part of the remuneration package. “We are now seeing bonuses introduced further down the food chain and directly linked to deliverables on the project," George says.
The majority of those who qualify can expect an extra 5 to 15 per cent top up of their gross salaries.
A mixed workforce
The workforce will be a mix of Australian expats looking to return home, alongside experienced workers from other oil and gas hubs such as Aberdeen, the Middle East and Russia.
While those in corporate offices might be working nine or 10 hour days, supporting remote operations, it will be out on the front line that challenging work hours will really be felt, with fly-in, fly-out workers doing 12 hour shifts – two weeks on, two weeks off.
George also notes that the industry is not just about rosters and pay rates. "Professionals in this industry are attracted to projects that use new technology – for example, Shell's FLNG project off the WA coast – and want to be involved in projects where the JV partners are consistently investing to take it to the next phase."
For full details see the 2014/15 Michael Page Salary & Employment Forecast.