By Jason McFarland, IADC President
The new year is a great time to contemplate what’s working for us and how we can amplify the elements of our success. Equally important is identifying areas of potential growth and paving the way for innovative solutions. Within the broader framework of the drilling industry, we benefit from commendable strengths —unyielding commitment to safety, ongoing collaboration for the collective good and the privilege of working in a field that enhances people’s quality of life.
Amidst our accomplishments, room for improvement remains. It’s imperative to vocalize our own stories, bridging the gap between the industry’s true nature and public perception. There’s also a need to revitalize our efforts in attracting new talent to this remarkable industry. To maintain a competitive edge, we have to captivate the attention of potential employees, showcasing the dynamic and rewarding nature of opportunities within our field.
In response to these sectorwide challenges, IADC launched the Industry Value Initiative in 2022. The mission was threefold: first, to understand perceptions of our industry among potential employees; second, to identify what today’s job seekers truly desire in a career; and third, to equip member companies with the insights gleaned from this project to aid them in attracting and securing top talent.
To set the project in motion, IADC contracted Brunswick Group to design and execute a research plan to help us gain a baseline understanding of perceptions, motivations, misconceptions and opportunities among prospective employees. Brunswick Group conducted a series of focus groups and online surveys among specific audiences in key regions. The identified audience groups included veterans, vocational students and individuals currently employed in a relevant industry, among others. Key regions for this project were the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia Pacific and the European Union.
We learned from the research findings that higher familiarity with the drilling industry often correlates to increased interest. When exposed to tailored messaging, most groups expressed markedly higher openness to this field. The data also revealed that awareness of the industry is modest, indicating significant opportunity to enhance public understanding. Broad outreach about the industry’s nature and purpose is essential to thrive in today’s labor market. It’s very likely that promising future employees aren’t considering drilling careers presently, whether due to unfamiliarity or misinformation.
To make inroads, messaging must align with prospective employees’ aspirations. Those surveyed valued work-life balance, career growth and professional development above all. Job security, workplace safety and benefits were also viewed as essential priorities. Attracting talented candidates will require finding compelling ways to communicate the advantages of working in this industry.
Additionally, it’s crucial to directly address prevalent concerns regarding a career in drilling, such as environmental impact, job insecurity and workplace hazards. In surveys, participants selected “risky” and “polluting” as top descriptors for the industry, while considering “safe” and “sustainable” as inapplicable. Many also felt as though a career in drilling was “not for them,” whether from disinterest or perceived lack of credentials. To challenge these notions, messaging should showcase our commitment to sustainability and an inclusive work culture. By highlighting stewardship initiatives, safety innovations and diversity in roles, we can convey that our industry offers dynamic, stable careers for all types of talent. Reassuring narratives that combat outdated myths and accurately reflect our values will likely resonate with prospective recruits.
On that note, we can also utilize messaging around advanced technology to reintroduce the industry to people. While technology was not the audience’s first association with drilling, messaging around how we use cutting-edge technology can help drive interest moving forward. By showcasing complex technical capabilities and state-of-the-art tools, we can reshape antiquated perceptions and set this industry apart as an exciting career option for the next generation.
In order to spread any of the above messages, we must utilize the right channels and sources. Company websites and social media platforms are fundamental avenues to educate potential recruits. Furthermore, those surveyed indicated that if considering a drilling career, they would turn first to family, friends and acquaintances with a career in the industry as their most trusted sources. This underscores the importance of empowering current employees to be passionate and authentic ambassadors for working in this field.
These data-driven insights synthesize more than a year of diligent work to guide our members in today’s recruiting landscape, yet they represent just a preview of the extensive Industry Value Initiative project findings. IADC invites and encourages all members to fully leverage these resources to craft targeted outreach efforts. With compelling, research-based messaging, we can capture the interest of the future workforce. Our success depends on conveying what makes this work so meaningful – both to seasoned employees and promising newcomers alike. DC