Guido Van Der Zwet
General Manager Americas
iPS Powerful People
View from the Top

Jobs Market Finally Shows a Pulse

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:09

Q: As the oil and gas cycle picks up, how would you evaluate demand for different kinds of employees?

A: There are over 60 new operators who are just getting started in Mexico. What we see is that all these companies are in different phases regarding hiring. Some are active and hiring at a faster pace than others. Of course, there is more development with onshore and shallow-water operators. With deepwater operators, hiring is a bit slower but it is also progressing. We are mainly looking to fill white-collar positions at the offices of the new operators. They are already inquiring about operational crew but we expect that demand will be stronger in 2019.

Q: What sector of the oil and gas industry is the most dynamic for iPS?

A: Upstream requires the most personnel in the long run, although we see demand for personnel in downstream, particularly for new gas stations. We work with BP for example. With regard to liquid fuels, I would say upstream and downstream are the most active sectors because midstream is still in the hands of the government. However, on the natural gas side there are many things happening in midstream, especially in the case of onshore pipelines.

Q: How did the oil and gas industry downturn affect employment?

A: Many people were laid off, of course. PEMEX is in a transition phase and it was forced to let a lot of people go. PEMEX’s subcontractors also shed many employees; some companies went bankrupt and others literally left the country. These took a great deal of employment with them and many people are still unemployed. Of course, there are other industries in Mexico that are thriving, such as the automotive and aerospace industries, and some oil and gas industry employees found work within those sectors. For some workers, an alternative has been to try to get some schooling and enter other industries. But when examining places like Ciudad del Carmen and other coastal cities, there is still a lot of unemployment.

Q: How do you think Mexico has been able to address these retraining challenges?

A: I think the question is ultimately who is responsible for retraining. I think the IOCs but also the local and federal governments should do their part to improve schooling and training. Of course, there is a gap between current activities and future activities and there is unemployment at the moment. However, the coming number of required personnel is so large that it is necessary to act now.

Q: What can a company such as iPS do to assist skilled workers unemployed in the downturn?

A: Since we operate internationally we can help people find jobs in other countries, either in Latin America or in other parts of the world. We have been sending people to the Middle East and to Europe over the last couple of years. Another thing we can do is to keep our database updated with all the people who have lost their jobs. As soon as the market picks up again we try to get them jobs in the right companies.

Q: To what extent was there an exodus from Mexico these last few years?

A: People have been leaving but I would not call it an exodus. The real exodus has been among service companies. So, for example, there are platforms in the ocean with a crew onboard to do the drilling. But drilling requires drilling fluids so there is a service company providing these to the platforms. Then there are other vessels, such as multisupply vessels that do maintenance for the platforms and crewing vessels that take people to and from the platforms. There are catering companies and offshore accommodation services, such as flotels. Now that the operations and production of PEMEX have plummeted, many platforms have lost contracts or even stopped producing. This means that all the other surrounding services also have stopped. We have definitely seen an exodus of service companies and vessels leaving the Gulf of Mexico. Some take their personnel with them but other employees are let go.