The Evolving Landscape of Petroleum Engineering Recruitment in the UK

Our Senior Consultant Chris Morrison shares his insights into current trends, challenges, and opportunities.

February 6, 2024


The landscape of petroleum engineering recruitment in the UK is witnessing a significant transformation. Before I delve into this evolving sector, it's crucial to understand the current trends, changes in skill requirements, challenges, and opportunities that are shaping the industry today. Since 2020, I have been the focal point at WeConnect Energy for the petroleum and reservoir engineering disciplines, supporting new opportunities ranging from hands-on technically focused PE/RE engineering roles, to positions within the ever-growing CCS and geothermal space, and even subsurface leadership positions up to and including the executive level.

My time in WeConnect Energy has allowed me the opportunity to not only build an expansive network in the sector, but gain an in-depth understanding of what traits and skills make candidates stand out to potential E&P operating companies in the current market climate, and how to provide the best guidance and support to those in the industry who are seeking to partake in a new endeavour. Reflecting on these years, it’s clear to me that the key technical skills associated with the petroleum engineering sphere are still highly sought after in many capacities.  

Overview of the Current Job Market

In 2023, the petroleum engineering job market in the UK has shown resilience and adaptability. Despite global challenges, there's been a steady demand for skilled professionals in this sector. News trends indicate a shift towards more sustainable and technologically advanced practices within the industry. The growing focus on renewable energy and digital transformation is influencing the types of roles and skills in demand.  

Whilst the demand for petroleum engineers remains high when considering the global market, many regional demands have shifted somewhat as new energy and carbon capture projects emerge, and governments continuously amend their policies and outlook on fossil fuels. Companies diversifying their portfolios to create a more sustainability-focused world have created new verticals for oil & gas engineers to manoeuvre to, resulting in a faster bleed of talent from traditional exploration and production-based positions.  

Changes in Skill Requirements

The skillset required for petroleum engineers is evolving. We are observing a trend where traditional engineering degrees are increasingly being complemented with skills in data analytics, digital technologies, and sustainability practices. Employers are now seeking candidates who not only have a strong technical background but also possess the ability to adapt to new technologies and sustainable methods.  

This trend is closely linked to what I’ve mentioned above, with companies now seeking dynamic individuals who are capable of transitioning between core E&P roles and new energy focused projects, and as the energy landscape continues to evolve, this provides operators with a versatile body of staff capable of tackling an array of challenges with broad project experience both domestically and internationally.  

Challenges in Petroleum Engineering Recruitment

Recruitment in this sector faces several challenges, the foremost is the competition for talent, especially as the industry competes with the renewable energy sector which is also vying for similar skill sets. Skills such as project management, data analysis, and engineering expertise are now in high demand across both traditional and renewable energy industries, exacerbating the talent competition. The increasing demand versus the low supply of new labour has been billed as the next ‘energy crisis’, in every facet of the labour force from forward thinking corporate leaders to skilled engineers, the lack of people to fill these gaps is causing a strain. One potential strategy for E&P companies to overcome talent shortages could involve forming collaborations with educational institutions. This would ensure that academic curricula are in sync with the industry's changing requirements. Eni's effective partnerships in this domain serve as notable examples, in addition, Total have previously strategically partnered with Edinburgh based Heriot-Watt University on research and development activities.

Two office workers at a table
Chris Morrison, Senior Consultant - Subsurface

Opportunities for Job Seekers

For job seekers, roles focused heavily on reservoir management, production optimisation, business development and M&A all appear to be very commonly sought after across the UK, Europe and the MENA region, and certainly positions I’m asked to support on a weekly basis. As the energy mix continues to shift, I would encourage candidates to take time to consider international opportunities if respective domestic roles do not provide the adequate next step in terms of career progression, the international exposure really helps elevate your career profile to perspective employers.  

Insights for Employers

For employers in the petroleum engineering sector, attracting top talent requires a focus on not only competitive compensation but also on building a sustainable and innovative brand image. Showcasing commitment to environmental sustainability, technological innovation, and employee development can make an organisation more attractive to potential candidates. Tailoring the recruitment process to highlight these aspects can be crucial in drawing top talent. To build this brand image, companies need to position themselves as leaders in innovation and sustainability, which can be particularly appealing to college graduates and digitally minded professionals looking for employers that align with their values.

One of the key elements that I believe potential employees are seeking, and is perhaps more pronounced in the current landscape than previous years, is role stability. With the industry climate ever in flux, job stability has become a key focus for many who are interested in obtaining a long-term position with a single company where they can enhance their skillset, progress their career, and contribute to longer-term projects. It does tend to seem like the days of building a career spanning 30+ years with a single company are long gone, but I believe if employers are able to correctly position opportunities that reflect a degree of stability, this would be well received. WeConnect Energy’s latest Petroleum Engineering Salary Survey provided conclusive findings in this area. Only 35% of the 350+ respondents said that they were satisfied or extremely satisfied about their job security. If you’ve not already, why not download a copy of this survey for some more insights, it is our most comprehensive one to date.


The landscape of petroleum engineering recruitment in the UK is changing rapidly, driven by technological advancements and a growing emphasis on sustainability. Understanding these trends, whether as a job seeker or an employer, is crucial for navigating this dynamic market successfully. I would encourage both prospective candidates and employers to consider the advantages of working in partnership over longer periods of time.  

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I hope you enjoyed the first in my blog series, if you would like to discuss your recruitment needs, then please feel free to connect with me or send an email to

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