Shale industry employers see biggest recruitment challenges in professional area

Posted August 21, 2013


PITTSBURGH – Companies working in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, who plan to hire about 4,000 people this year across the two shale regions, said the biggest challenges to recruitment are finding qualified applicants in professional and managerial areas.

The responses came in annual workforce survey released Wednesday by The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which provides a real-time overview of the employment makeup of the region’s natural gas production industry.

The results – based on 2012 data provided by more than 100 MSC member companies – indicate 96 percent of the hires are from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and New York, all states in the Appalachian Basin.

“Our member companies are increasingly hiring and training local talent, which remains a top industry priority,” said MSC Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Klaber.

“And despite the sluggish economic trends nationally, the opportunities available for careers in shale exploration and production continue to grow.”

According to the survey, 30 percent of new hires work in equipment operations, 20 percent in operations and maintenance, 13 percent in commercial, 11 percent in engineering and construction, 8 percent in administration and 4 percent in environmental health and safety.

Of the companies participating in the survey, 49 percent said the most difficult positions to fill last year were professional, such as those in engineering and construction, environmental health and safety, geology and land operations. Another 15 percent said difficult-to-fill jobs were in management in the same skill areas as professionals.

Respondents said the top three challenges in filling positions were in finding qualified talent, as well as the industry competition for qualified talent and a candidate’s willingness to relocate.

Of all of the recruitment challenges, companies said the most significant were due to failed background screenings and failed pre-employment drug tests. Also falling into the biggest challenges to recruitment was industry perception of job candidates.

Of the approximately 4,000 new hires anticipated this year by companies working in the Marcellus/Utica shale plays, the survey indicated nearly 70 percent will occur in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

According to the research, surveyed companies expect to hire in areas ranging from engineering and construction to operations and maintenance, environmental health and safety and administration, among others.

When asked where they believed four-year college degree programs were need beyond what is currently available the companies identified engineering, pipeline engineering and environmental/regulatory with an emphasis on air quality.

Companies reported that recruiting methods that produced the best results were company websites, career websites/job portals and referrals.

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