Maersk oil rig

In July, global workforce solutions provider Airswift (formed by a merger of Air Energi and Swift Worldwide Resources in 2016) launched a division dedicated to finding permanent, rather than temporary, staff for the energy, infrastructure and process sectors, bringing to the fore an arm of the business that had historically been in the shadow of Airswift contract recruitment division.

With dedicated leadership, resources and strategic plans for growth, the new division is set to enable Airswift to provide complete workforce solutions for companies in the energy sector, which, in today’s competitive environment, need every bit of help they can get to operate as efficiently as possible.

Yet, while the demand is clearly there from clients and the Airswift team is confident that its 30 years’ experience in the industry will stand it in good stead to meet the challenges that come with recruiting permanent staff, Vice President Europe & Group Director Permanent Workforce Solutions at Airswift Donna Chapman is the first to admit that providing the right permanent staff members at the right price will be no easy task.

Elly Earls spoke to Chapman to find out why Airswift decided to launch the new division, what challenges she expects to face and why working in partnership with clients is the key to success.

Elly Earls: Why did Airswift decide to launch a dedicated permanent workforce solutions division?

Donna Chapman: Well, whilst we have always offered permanent recruitment, this was very much in the shadow of our contractor established business which has been going for 30 years now. Airswift felt that the time was right to create a dedicated division which, combined with our existing services, will enable us to deliver complete workforce solutions tailored to meet client-specific needs.

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Forming a specialist division for permanent workforce solutions will allow this area of our business to have its own leadership, dedicated resources and strategic plans for growth. This will allow us to build on our industry-leading reputation in the contracting space to become the trusted partner for delivering permanent workforce solutions.

EE: Which sectors within the energy industry do you expect the division will mainly be required for?

DC: We expect that the permanent workforce solutions division will provide expertise in the energy, infrastructure and process sectors, as these are our core focuses. The launching of this division will see the company deliver for these core focus sectors via dedicated, expert teams in key locations worldwide.

EE: What roles do you anticipate companies using this division to recruit for?

DC: The division will be able to provide permanent staff across a wide variety of areas such as drilling, engineering and design and project management. The scope of roles will range from sizable blue collar managed projects to niche search mandates for hard-to-find skills and senior executives.

EE: What are the advantages to energy companies of permanent rather than transient staff?

DC: For an energy company, hiring permanent staff rather than freelancers allows them to assemble a more suitable and efficient workforce. In what is currently a very competitive market, this can be the difference between success and failure as potential project delays can be mitigated. Airswift is recognised as being able to help clients attract and retain the best talent in the market as well as being able to provide this service globally.

EE: What are the key challenges you face providing the right permanent staff members to companies within the energy industry?

DC: The key challenges are ensuring that we provide not only the right permanent staff members but achieving this in an efficient and cost-effective manner. We like to work with clients in a true partnership arrangement, meaning that we work exclusively or on a very select basis. By becoming true partners with our clients, we can achieve unparalleled service levels and conversion rates that reduce our clients’ time and cost to hire significantly.

EE: What process do you go through to make sure you get the right candidate for each job?

DC: We carry out a rigorous and robust selection process for all of our candidates, including biographical and competency-based interviews supported by technical in-house expert interviewers and psychometric profiling. The cost of recruiting the wrong candidate will dwarf that of recruiting the right candidate via a strong partner.

EE: The energy industry is global, with many operations in remote areas. What challenges does this bring up for Airswift and how do you overcome these?

DC: Airswift has expertise in operating in some of the most far flung regions globally, from Papua New Guinea to Mozambique, Iraq and across the globe. The biggest challenges include immigration, which can be a highly complex process involving strict visa controls and complicated migration regulations. Other major challenges include navigating the tax and social security requirements of the differing regions.

In order to overcome these types of issues, we work with our clients on a consultative basis and provide them with the necessary market intelligence and expertise to provide pragmatic, knowledgeable solutions. Airswift also has a bespoke talent mapping and rewards comparison analysis tool that allows clients to easily identify and assess candidates when entering new regions or sectors. We also provide outplacement services to help effectively manage processes around redundancy planning.

EE: For energy companies, what are the advantages of working with a specialist recruitment company like Airswift to fill permanent positions rather than doing it in-house or using their own networks?

DC: The advantages of working with a specialist recruitment company such as Airswift is that we have over 400 energy specialist recruiters worldwide, who all possess market knowledge, access to talent and competitor knowledge. This combination of skills means that we can successfully work with businesses as a strategic partner to add tangible value that can’t be achieved through in-house recruitment or relying on their own networks.

EE: Since launching the permanent workforce solutions division, how popular has it been and what feedback have you had from clients?

DC: The feedback on our permanent workforce solutions and consultancy services has been fantastic and we’re now working with many clients on some of the most exciting energy and infrastructure projects across the world. The launch has enabled us to deliver complete workforce solutions, tailored to meet client-specific needs. We’re also building upon our industry-leading reputation in the contracting space to become a trusted partner for delivering permanent workforce solutions.