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Expatriating Talent in Offshore Wind

12 Apr 2018
John Kennedy

Expatriating Talent in Offshore Wind

Europe’s offshore wind market has long since developed to maturity, but it is heartening to see the sector enjoying abundant growth across other international sectors. In the Far East contracts are being signed with turbine suppliers, in the Middle East renewable programs have been announces by Saudi and Emirati governments, and even the US is waking up to the lowered cost of developing such a crucial source of energy on the Atlantic coast. Similar progress is being made across Japan and the BRIC nations. Not only will this stimulate local economies, creating jobs and supply chains, it’s also great news for our future global carbon footprint.

It’s safe to say that the offshore wind market is exploding - professionals in the sector with an international outlook are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospects. These global developments will give individuals and organisations alike the opportunity to export their skill sets. The excitement and optimism seem reminiscent of the globalization of the oil and gas sector more than half a century ago.

Eden Scott works with individuals to achieve their dreams of taking advantage of these prospects and living the expatriate lifestyle. Within our Clean Energy division, we are making great strides to develop vendor partnerships in these burgeoning regions. Our divisional efforts are becoming central to bridging the gap between the available talent and prospects in the sector, but we also realise the importance of adapting to the challenges of moving abroad. Therefore, we also have an in-house expatriation consultant who professionally advises on broad subject areas such as working culture, living conditions and financial comparisons. 

Eden Scott has supplied both contract and permanent resource to offshore wind projects in the UK, France, Holland, and Germany. Many of our long-standing local clients are switching their focus to include emerging overseas markets and seeking proven expertise to lead the charge.

Expatriating Talent in Offshore Wind

To quote the Department of International Trade, “exporting is great!”.  From a UK perspective, there’s a real push for overseas development and the wind sector is a perfect platform for the supply chain/talent pool to look at these markets. Further, with the continued low value of the Pound, you have to ask, why not export or expatriate? What’s stopping you? It was interesting to read the UK Government’s position in the Industrial Strategy white paper (November 2017):

“We will maximize the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth – through leading the world in the development, manufacture and use of low carbon technologies systems.”

There have also been some high-profile branding decisions relating to wind energy, such as Dong Energy and Statoil rebranding to reflect their clean energy aspirations. Scotland, and the UK as a whole, is a developing offshore wind energy success story and it’s encouraging to see the rest of the world beginning to follow suit. The industry in Scotland is flourishing, with Beatrice and Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm under construction, and with Moray East and Nearth N’Goithe already having secured investment contracts. There are other exciting projects moving forward such as Inchcape, Seagreen and Moray West. Eden Scott is looking forward to continuing to maximise the UK sector opportunities for our clients and candidates as we join a host of organisations throughout the supply chain who are now in a fantastic position to export.

Expatriating Talent in Offshore Wind

So what comes next if you are a job seeker in the sector and aspire for your next assignment to be overseas? If you have been part of the European story you will have learned lessons and already be in a great position to apply yourself elsewhere. After living in the Middle East for more than 20 years and coordinated hundreds of international mobilizations, I do however see patterns in where things fall flat, so I have thrown together a collection of points that you might find useful if you are thinking of making that move:

  1. Have you spoken to your family?

    This may seem obvious, but you really need to speak to your family about any kind of move abroad! The economic and lifestyle changes may all be thought through, but making commitments to move overseas will undoubtedly affect your relationships with your nearest and dearest. Is your partner happy that you are working on a supply vessel on strange seas?  Are your children happy to move schools? Have you asked them again? Despite recruiting internationally for more than a decade, I am still surprised by the number of candidates that get itchy feet at the offer stage because they haven’t spoken to their loved ones about such implications.

  2. Don’t rush to judgement on the financial package.

    Too many candidates look at the baseline salary and their assessment stops there. There’s much more to consider. What are your tax implications? Does your future employer subsidise your living costs? What are those living costs? Will your home property work for you financially while you are away? Run it all into a spreadsheet - the output calculation may surprise you.

  3. Be patient.

    At every stage of the expatriation process recruitment lead times are, on average, slower than what they would be if you were moving within-country. Employers invest heavily in things like flights, insurances and legal/visa proceedings, and so in their assessment of you they have much to lose if the introduction is rushed. Expect approvals to run through many, many hands. Once you get to the enviable stage of receiving an offer it can still be several months to receive your paperwork to mobilize. Try to establish timelines earlier in the process so you can effectively manage such a major transition.

  4. Be a flexible worker.

    You are entering a new work culture that may be incomparable to any assignment you have been involved with in the past. The better employers will give you some guidance regarding such challenges during the interview process, but adaptiveness is key. For example, establish in advance if your role involves the management of multiple project stakeholders. What about safety culture? Will deviances in country legislation effect your work? The internet-age gives us countless orientation material for every country under the sun, so preparedness is key for a successful bedding-in.

  5. Doors will open.

    Think about global trends and what your career history may look like in five to ten years down the line. In Taiwan for example, if you are fortunate enough to be involved in the first wave of major projects the chances are your skill set will be highly sought after for the projects to come. Perhaps you will even consider conceding slightly on package negotiations if you feel that it gets your foot in the door.

It can be too easy to reject opportunities overseas - sometimes the thought of relocation can feel like a mountain to climb. Utilize the contacts around you and don’t be afraid to ask the simplest of questions.

If you're interested in pursuing a role in renewable energy, whether in the UK or abroad, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0131 550 1154 or at John.Kennedy@EdenScott.com

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