Could a skills shortage threaten the lubricants industry?

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Eleven Team lubricants-and-chemicals, For employers, Lubricants & Chemicals...

Deeply concerned about the skills shortage looming on the horizon of the lubricants industry, Eleven Recruitment - the new name for Oil Recruitment – recently partnered with UKLA to conduct in-depth research, assessing the extent of the problem and finding out how those within the industry think it can be solved.

As well as surveying 141 people from across the sector, Eleven also carried out individual interviews with industry leaders, which formed the basis of an in-depth whitepaper.

“From our findings it’s clear that the industry feels there’s a significant and urgent problem,” said Eleven’s managing director, Nick Smith. “Rather than burying our heads in the sand or thinking that quick fixes such as higher salaries are the answer, it’s time to address why the industry is missing out on talent.”


The problem

There is an ageing workforce and the industry is failing to attract young people and women. The skills are out there but they are not finding their way to the sector, which could prove critical by 2030.

Companies are struggling to meet their performance targets or are predicting that they will do in the next five years, with more than three quarters of those surveyed believing that a skills shortage is to blame.

They are also finding it difficult to fill job vacancies and acknowledge that they need better ways to attract and retain talent. A staggering 84% of respondents said that the recruitment process was taking longer than average because of the skills shortage.

According to the research there are several issues to blame. As well as an absence of vision and investment, the gap between education and what the industry wants, featured prominently in respondents’ comments.

Another major factor is the lack of women. Companies are missing out on a significant pool of talent by not ensuring diversity in their recruitment practices.

Image also has a big part to play, especially when attracting millennials, as UKLA Director General David Wright, highlights: “New media-driven industries have become more sexy and attractive for new graduates. The challenge we face is to make our industry appealing to the next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers.”


The solution

The perception of the industry has to change. Few graduates are choosing to enter the lubricants industry, yet, despite a dip in figures this year, the number of school leavers studying chemical engineering and other STEM subjects at degree level has steadily risen since 2007, with figures indicating a 32% increase by 2015-16. Many of those questioned also felt that better apprenticeships and mentorships could help to solve the skills problem.

If you would like to get the full survey results as well as insights from industry experts, download our Whitepaper ‘We need to talk about 2030’ now.