Chemical companies face several challenges

A new survey by Accenture and ACC shows that chemical companies in North America are facing the problem of staff turnover. If it can not be solved, it may mean more unplanned operation interruption, more recruitment and training costs, and more efforts to maintain safety. The results of the survey were announced at the annual business meeting of the Committee today.

Chemical companies are faced with a lack of experienced workers and will have to replace a large number of retiring baby boomers in the next few years. More than 20 percent of chemical workers will retire in the next three to five years, 40 percent said.

86% of respondents said that the profitability of the chemical industry would be seriously affected if the aging labor force could not be solved in the next three to five years. Among them, 49% of chemical companies agree with this view, and 37% strongly agree with this view. At present, North American industry will continue to expand.

In addition, only about a quarter of North American chemical companies retain 90% or more of their millennial employees in the past three years. Most companies find that the turnover rate of millennials is as high as 30% to 50%. In contrast, a recent strategic study by Accenture shows that fresh college graduates want to stay in a job for more than three years.

Cal Dooley, President and CEO of ACC, said: “the abundant domestic shale gas supply has transformed the United States from a high cost producer of major petrochemical products and resins to the lowest cost producer in the world, creating an unprecedented period of growth.” “We have now announced more than 262 new chemical projects worth more than $161 billion. For the first time in more than a decade, it’s crucial for us chemical to create good, high-income American jobs again, and we can attract and retain talented employees to help us continue to drive economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness, “he added.

The executives interviewed pointed out that chemical companies have effective knowledge transfer programs and can employ millennials with non-technical degrees to train them in technical knowledge to be competent for their jobs. For some, the challenge is how to get millennials to engage in long-term, productive careers in what is considered an “old” industry, despite its record of innovation in the past.

“Companies in all industries have employees of different generations,” says Julie sweet, chief executive of Accenture’s North America group “We’ve found that employees want interesting jobs, opportunities to make meaningful contributions and a balanced life for generations. By focusing on transparency, providing a highly personalized employee experience around these values, and providing a feedback loop to keep in close contact with employees, companies can attract and motivate talents of all ages. ”

Most chemical companies compete with their peers to fill vacancies mainly by recruiting from other companies in the industry. This results in limited talent reserves and fierce competition. More than half (52%) of chemical companies report hiring professionals from competitors. In contrast, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (may 2015), two-thirds of chemical, chemical engineering and materials science graduates favored by chemical companies work in other industries, including government agencies and energy companies.

What exacerbates the labor challenge is the so-called “absence in the middle”, that is, workers aged 35 to 54. It is also a tight labor resource from which retired workers with valuable professional skills can be recruited and replaced.

“Now, innovation in the U.S. energy sector has created a surge in demand for chemical professionals, especially skilled craft and skilled workers, and the industry needs to work together to close the growth gap,” said Peter Naitang, chairman of the board of directors of ACC and President and CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical. “Raising awareness is a key first step, but we also need to work closely with school, community and government leaders to ensure that resources are in place to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce.”

“When you summarize all this, we are fighting a talent war in many ways,” said Inga Carus, a member of ACC’s board of directors and chairman of Carus. “As older employees retire, we not only have to hire the right people to pass on their knowledge to younger employees, but we also have to bridge the gap with millennials, make them excited about what we’re doing in chemistry, and develop new products to meet the needs of their generation.”

Another challenge is that new technologies are changing the face of the workforce in the chemical industry. Nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said half or more of the workforce was changing compared to three years ago, thanks to new skills, automation, robotics and cognitive agents.

Comments are closed