Following the release of the UK’s Q4 GDP figures, the latest annual survey of oil and gas professionals by Rigzone paints a similarly down-beat picture of the UK.

The majority (51%) of British based oil and gas professionals believe it will be hard to find a favourable new position in 2013 compared to the 31% who think it will be easy. The findings come despite an industry anticipated increase in North Sea exploration investment following the introduction of recent new tax breaks by the British government to stimulate the development of projects in the region.

And for an industry that in recent years has globally been in a bull run in hiring terms, the tell-tale signs of the current slow-down evidence themselves not so much in the number of new jobs being posted on Rigzone which remains buoyant, but in the workplace observations of employees.

Most notable amongst these has been the lack of any annual end of year surge in calls from recruiters or surge in colleagues voluntarily quitting their positions. Whilst more than three in four (77%) of UK based oil and gas professionals have received at least one call from a recruiter in the previous six months, nearly half (47%) said the level of inquiries was the same from the previous six months.   Similarly 45% said there was no change in the voluntary departure levels in their department over same period, with seven per cent saying it was lower.

And for those contemplating a move in 2013, financial considerations were not the number one reason given for considering a switch – they were a distant fourth behind “better career opportunities elsewhere”, “the opportunity for a better work/life balance”, and “frustrated for lack of recognition for accomplishments”. But for those UK based workers receiving calls from recruiters, the improved salary/billing rate was the most often offered carrot along with “better career opportunities”.

But based on the findings of the Rigzone survey, an employee’s boss can be a key factor in determining a person’s final decision to stay or leave, 63% of the UK based respondents saying their boss is “very” or “somewhat” important in their decision to quit or stay. Meanwhile, 42% said they could be deterred from moving even if they were to find a suitable new opportunity elsewhere. Half or (50%) of respondents, however, would not be open to persuasion.

Commenting on the UK oil and gas employment market, Dominic Simpson, Head of Sales of Rigzone in EMEA and APAC regions, said, “The two years of uncertainly as to how exploration in the North Sea might be taxed by the British Government - combined with the wider economic crisis in Europe - has undoubtedly caused momentum in the sector to slow; it will now take time for the benefits of the new tax incentives to stimulate exploration on the UK continental shelf to impact the work-force.”

“In such an environment it is imperative that organisations work hard at retaining their best talent to avoid the inevitable skills-gap that will impact as exploration investment picks up.”

Some 6,500 oil and gas professionals responded to the 2013 Rigzone Retention Survey which was conducted between January 3 and January 11, 2013. More than half (54%) of respondents worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while 16% were from the United States, seven  per cent from South America and three per cent from Canada, another 20% worked in the Asia-Pacific.