The Aberdeen economy has shown real resilience over the last five years and Eden Scott is proud to have played a part in this. Celebrating its tenth birthday this year, Eden Scott Aberdeen has seen both sides of a turbulent time for the area. that defied the global economic crisis and the lows of the downturn that followed as the oil price plummeted.
So, what does the future hold? There are varying estimates as to the remaining levels of oil left in the North Sea and recent reports indicate that in order to meet the ambitious climate change targets Scotland has set, 70%-80% of the oil would need to remain in the ground.
With 196 countries signed up to the Paris Agreement, and Scotland’s drive to become a leader in the renewable energy market, the question is where should the North East economy focus and how will it attract and retain the talent to help it truly prosper in years to come?
It seems a little obvious, and perhaps overly simplistic, to suggest that a regional economy cannot just rely on one industry. However, there can be no doubt that Aberdeen is committed to a future that retains a strong focus on energy; the majority of the funding from the city deal (£180m of £250m) is managed by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and key players such as Oil and Gas UK and the Oil and Gas Authority maintain a strong representation in the area.
How can Aberdeen reverse the perception that the oil and gas industry has a limited future, and strive to be leaders in the field, innovators, a hub of knowledge and centre of excellence, that will create long-term benefits for the wider supply chain?
Eden Scott Aberdeen opened its doors in 2009 and from the start has always recruited for a broad spectrum of sectors. While they have always recruited within the energy sector, Lucy Nicoll, Associate Director, and the team have over 40 years’ recruitment experience between them - providing recruitment solutions across a solid base of professional business services including, accountancy and finance, procurement and supply chain, and HR and office services, which has maintained the business as others sectors have flexed with the changes in the global economy.
In recent years the growth of start-ups and scale-ups across Scotland created an opportunity for Eden Scott to develop TalentSpark - our recruitment product specifically for early stage businesses.
It is this emergence of an ambitious, entrepreneurial mindset flourishing in our universities and communities that will help Aberdeen adapt and flex to any future changes that will occur in the energy market.
The nature of the businesses applying for the funding and taking up the challenges posted by the OGTC through ‘calls for ideas’ indicate that the entrepreneurial mindset exists in abundance in the city. Many are start-ups or spinouts from universities which bring high levels of technical competency and an ability to move quickly. They look at the wider implications of their product, outwith the immediate market, and how they might offer greater commercial and societal benefits.
A great example of this is one of our clients, Novosound. While an inverse approach - given their dental product is now benefiting the oil and gas sector - founder Dave Hughes’ entrepreneurial mindset created a technology that will ultimately benefit both industries.
Their ultrasound technology provides ‘fit and forget’ sensors that create high quality, printed imagery that sense potential flaws in the pipeline infrastructure - making detection and solution much quicker and cost effective. This same technology is suitable for dental ultrasound providing similar benefits to analysis.
Supporting the growth of smaller, more agile businesses in Aberdeen with the right entrepreneurial mindset will create the requirement for the technical skills that Aberdeen was awash with five years ago and will also establish Aberdeen as a centre of excellence; known the world over for advancing technology with global benefits.
There remains a solid base of talent in Aberdeen, however, it is also true that people left the city as the demand for their technical skills and expertise diminished.
Obviously during the height of the market wages reflected demand. However, people are looking for more than financial reward nowadays.
One of the biggest trends we are noticing in talent attraction is achieving the right culture. More so than financial reward, many of those with technical skills are looking for the right environment to work within. Employees are also looking for greater diversity amongst the workforce.
A focus on the right culture is commonplace amongst many smaller, entrepreneurial businesses. They recognise the value of their employees and focus on not only attracting but retaining their talents, but more importantly, can act quickly to rectify the situation if the culture is changing and not indicative of the business.
This isn’t necessarily the case amongst many larger businesses and while they certainly invest in creating the right culture; it can be difficult to manage with their scale.
Creating the right culture can build greater ‘diversity of thought’ amongst your business too. For instance, in a recent energy sector survey, when asked “what your current company could do to make it more welcoming and encouraging to females”, 43% said more flexible working and better communications. 42% said training and education or mentoring was top of their list.
Recognizing that money is no longer the main motivator is an important lesson for the sector to learn and will certainly support a more robust economy.
The energy sector will continue to dominate the North East of Scotland and the area will always profit from a highly skilled workforce. However, to avoid a repeat of the downturn it is vital the city rebuilds with a broad base of industries, an entrepreneurial mindset and that companies move forward with the right culture and values in mind.