“You’re the 1% that have gone in harm’s way to protect our freedoms and way of life. You’re among the best that this country has to offer and we want you. If you’re looking for a serious career in the oilfield services, come join our team,” says Nick Tran, Talent Acquisition Manager at Express Energy Services.
Nick, a Staff Sergeant in the US Army and veteran of Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, is not alone in welcoming returning troops to the oil and gas industry. His firm, Express Energy Services (a diversified oil service company with 12 service lines spread across 30 US locations) is one of many O&G companies recognizing the value of adding returning military vets to the payroll.
And veteran hiring is not only the right thing to do, but it is becoming mandatory too. As you’ll see below, new regulations that went into effect in 2014 mean veterans must comprise 7% of new hires by companies with government contracts each year going forward.
Veterans Are In Demand In O&G
Military veterans have a proven track record of success in oil and gas due to their work ethic, ability to work in the field, deal with stressful situations, character, and leadership training. This training can be very useful as the under-staffed O&G industry races to bridge the generation gap and ramp up its workforce ahead of the great crew change. Each year, some 250,000 veterans leave the service, and many are looking for new careers in the private sector, including O&G.
Benny Kinsey, an experienced oil and gas military placement specialist says “From what I’ve seen, military skills transition smoothly to oilfield skills. The skill sets learned within military service have proved to be quite useful in the oilfield. More and more companies are recognizing the values of military training.”
And military hiring is making a difference for companies that pursue this recruiting source. Over half the people that Patterson-UTI recruited for its drilling operations last year were active, returning military. Patterson recognizes that these individuals possess valuable skills that transition well to O&G, and the drilling contractor attributes its staffing successes in competitive markets like the Permian Basin to military hiring.
Military hiring is helping Patterson keep its costs in control, execute on projects, and deliver profits to shareholders. And the company’s returning troops program has landed Patterson-UTI on the Military Friendly Top 100 Employers list.
Baker Hughes, ranked 79th on the Military Friendly Employer List, has had a military hiring program in place for two years now, focused on hiring vets. Baker’s dedicated military HR team establishes networks at military bases, and the oil service contractor has developed a comprehensive suite of resources to assist veterans in acclimating to the private sector. Andy O’Donnell, a now retired Baker Hughes Executive, championed the initiative.
New Regs Make Increased Veteran Hiring Mandatory
Effective March 24, 2014, any company with a government contract totaling $100,000 or more is now required to adhere to new military hiring benchmarks. While O&G is a sector that generally provides limited services to government entities, most big companies have contracts with the federal government amounting to over $100,000. Many “household name” oil service and equipment companies likely qualify as government contractors under the new rules.
These new regulations will make veterans a hot commodity in the labor market. Here’s what you need to know about the new standards:
• The new standards were enacted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).
• Companies with a government contract of $100,000 or more that are required by the VEVRAA to develop a written affirmative action program must also establish a hiring benchmark for hiring protected veterans.
• The hiring benchmark applies to the percentage of total hires who are protected veterans that the company seeks to hire per year.
• The easiest way for companies to establish their benchmark is to adopt the national benchmark based on the percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force. Per the BLS, this national benchmark is 7.2%. That means 7.2% of all new offers by government contractors must go to protected veterans.
• One challenge for companies trying to comply with this standard is that self identification by military veterans is optional. Applicants are not required to disclose that they are vets, and some chose not to. This can lead to understated results vs. the benchmark and non-compliance.
Hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do and the profitable thing to do, but now, for many companies, it’s the mandatory thing to do as well. As the industry looks to fill a labor shortage covering many verticals and replace an entire generation of retiring pros, sourcing talent from the military is a no-brainer. Look for more O&G companies to develop military hiring programs, such as those in place at Express Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, and Baker Hughes, in the months ahead.