‘Help wanted’ ads fall with oil price

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The volume of vacant jobs advertised online in Norway has fallen to its lowest level in at least seven years, according to a website that tracks and collects help-wanted ads. There’s still demand for engineers, contends the large labour organization NITO, but many laid off in the oil and offshore industry will probably need to move to find new work.

Oil industry workers must be willing to climb out of their comfort zones and move to regions where more and other types of work are available. PHOTO: Statoil/Harald Pettersen

Oil industry workers must be willing to climb out of their comfort zones and move to regions where more and other types of work are available, claim labour market experts. PHOTO: Statoil/Harald Pettersen

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday morning that website Rubrikk.no was seeing double-digit downturns in the numbers of vacant positions being advertised at present. The site has tracked help-wanted ads since 2009 and is now logging declines in nearly all sectors, indicating that the sharp downturn in the oil business is affecting other industries.

While available jobs advertised in the oil and gas sector were down 80 percent from a year ago, the numbers also were bad in many others: Jobs listings in banking, finance and real estate were down 39 percent, consulting jobs were down 41 percent, listings in the retail sector were down 35 percent and jobs in the transport sector were down 28 percent.

Listings in the public administrative sector were also down, by fully 56 percent, while even jobs within the heavily subsidized agricultural industry were down 32 percent. Media and communications job listings were down 10 percent, but that may reflect the slashing of jobs already in 2014 and earlier. Media jobs began disappearing in 2008.

“We’ve never seen such a low level of job offerings,” Adil Osmani, manging director of Rubrikk.no told NRK. “The numbers indicate we haven’t seen the bottom of the market yet.”

Advertising not always necessary
Some experts on the job market note, however, that the sharp declines in job listings may merely reflect the lack of a need to advertise vacant jobs, because employers’ files already are full of applicants. Many engineers in the oil and gas business, for example, have been sending out their CVs for months or applying for jobs in other sectors, before possibly losing their jobs. Sigrun Vågeng, the new head of state welfare and employment agency NAV, has already been urging workers in sectors threatened by layoffs to take proactive measures and look for new positions before losing existing ones.

That means many companies don’t bother advertising, and instead recruit internally, consult existing employees who may know of qualified people looking for work, or simply cull their files of people who already have delivered CVs. “It’s important to use one’s network, to consult contacts and apply for jobs that aren’t advertised,” Vågeng told NRK.

She also warned last fall when she took on Norway’s top job within the labour market that people looking for work in Norway should be willing to relocate. The Norwegian job market is still characterized by sharp regional differences, and while unemployment is high in the areas with the highest concentration of oil-related jobs (the western and southern counties, especially Rogaland), several inland and northern areas need workers.

‘Good prospects’ outside the oil regions
Trond Markussen, director of the labour organization NITO that represents engineers and tech workers, agreed. “We still have a good labour market for engineers in Norway,” Markussen told newspaper Dagsavisen just before the weekend. “Unemployment is tied largely to southern and western Norway. Job prospects are good in the rest of the country. There’s still demand for engineers.”

Some companies have even sent recruiters to Stavanger, in the hopes of snaring technology experts and engineers out of work, or fearing that they may soon be. Among them is DIPS, which delivers technology for electronic medical charts to 85 percent of Norway’s hospitals. DIPS is based in Bodø, but has offices in Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø and Oslo.

“We hope for the best for the oil industry, and I’m sure it will bounce back, but we intend to exploit the possibilities found in Rogaland now,” DIPS’ marketing director Karl Arne Jespersen told Dagsavisen. The company currently has nearly 200 engineers on staff but was looking for another 40 in Stavanger last week. “There’s a lot of growth within health care and information technology,” he said. “I hope people will be willing to move.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

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