A one-stop HR hub for Trinidad and GuyanaFebruary 16, 2023
Angela Lee Loy, chairman of Eve Anderson Recruitment Agency & CEO Maria Chong Ton talk to The Energy Year about the current human resources pool.
What key improvements have taken place at Eve Anderson since the pandemic?
Maria CHONG TON: We transitioned through the pandemic period amazingly well because we had all the infrastructure in place to operate virtually. Since January 2022, we saw an increase in the demand for permanent staffing, which means that companies have started to revitalise. We have grown our payroll services and are now ISO certified. We continue to remain focused in our mission to be a one-stop HR hub for companies seeking contract and permanent staff in Trinidad and Tobago and now Guyana.
How would you describe the current human resources pool for the energy industry in Trinidad and Tobago?
Angela LEE LOY: Our country has a long history in the energy sector resulting in a vast level of expertise across generations. We have a very competitive marketplace as companies compete for the best talent. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, there are very well-known established companies who have invested in our oil and gas industry.
There are a lot of opportunities expected in the energy sector now, as of January 2023. In addition, feedback from this year’s Energy Conference showcased the tremendous amount of collaboration taking place between the downstream and upstream industries resulting in efficiencies. Globally, international visitors are blown away by what we have created in our twin island in this sector and we see positive collaborations and opportunities in the future.
How significant is the industry within Eve Anderson’s clientele?
Maria CHONG TON: The energy industry now accounts for about 35% of our clientele. We are focused on the Guyanese energy market, as we opened a local office there. We are experiencing a demand in Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago now. I think we’re strong with permanent placements. The talent and service levels we have in our labour pool set us apart. And what differentiates us is that we’re available 24/7 as we continue to build more partnerships with international companies.
In which sectors are you observing the most opportunities for the energy labour pool?
Angela LEE LOY: I’m observing a lot more outsourcing taking place. The BPO [business process outsourcing] model is happening almost everywhere because that way, companies can concentrate on what they know best, while the hired skill takes care of the work in the background. We are seeing this in onshore work, where the skilled people will always have an opportunity to be hired.
At Eve Anderson Recruitment, we are receiving various requests in the energy labour market in engineering and an increase in job openings for electrical and instrumental specialists, schedulers and maintenance and technician staff. Overall, clients are reaching out to us for mechanical, technical and offshore roles.
The energy industry is the engine of Trinidad’s economy, and we have a very large service industry supporting that. As work in the energy industry picks up, we’re going to find more SMEs, which make up the majority of the economy, expanding their offering. For example, companies in the PPE businesses have improved their offering. An employer has to make sure that their workforce is driven and the company is sustainable, and sometimes that takes innovating.
How can the Trinidadian government address the impact of brain drain in the country?
Angela LEE LOY: The government continues to look at the entire curriculum as well as exploring their digitisation and technological needs. Execution and speed are key here. The government must always review the fields of study in which scholarships are given. They should be awarded to the fields of study in which the country currently needs employees. We must optimise on this. If we don’t change our approach quickly, we will continue to lose talent.
Do you see room for improvement in the labour pool of the local and regional energy industry?
Angela LEE LOY: We have all the necessary engineering personnel – mechanical, petroleum and chemical engineers. What is important is to have not only technical qualifications, but also a business qualification to support them. We have all the relevant technical programmes available but they need more mentorship and guidance.
We have the talent in the energy sector but one area that is needed is mentoring. We need more leaders in the industry to mentor young professionals in order to gain a broad experience as future leaders.
We need people who can make change and the best way to achieve that is to have the technical knowledge coupled with a business understanding so they can have a much broader perspective.
What would you say is an imperative skill to have in any human resource pool?
Angela LEE LOY: One of the key factors in good human resources for any type of business is soft skills. Soft skills are necessary for knowing how to integrate with people and the higher echelons of your colleagues. It is not something that can be found in the textbooks, but you can be educated on them, and that makes for a better workforce.
How would you assess Trinidad and Tobago’s expertise and potential to further develop the strength of its energy industry?
Angela LEE LOY: Trinidad has a long history in the energy industry. We have all the big players here – the global companies – and what we see happening now more than ever is camaraderie and the ability for companies to consult among themselves. Whether a company operates in the upstream or the downstream, consultation is a strength and allows for mutual support and the generation of brilliant ideas. As more collaboration happens, it can strengthen our energy sector and allow us to extend our reach.
There are a lot of opportunities abroad as well where Trinidad and Tobago can play a major role as we have the infrastructure for export. As more collaboration happens, we can support global companies choosing Trinidad and Tobago as a key destination for doing business in the energy sector.
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