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GROWTH SECTOR: Nicole Kirwan-Ward says there has been a substantial rise in activity in the sector in recent months. Photo: Grant Currall

Developing new energy in recruitment

PERTH-BASED Energy Resourcing Australia supplies a range of innovative contracting service and recruitment solutions to a customer base that includes some of the world's leading companies.

Formed in 2006, the small business now employs 23 people and has offices in Perth and Singapore, together with operations in China, Indonesia and South Korea.

The company provides specific contract and staff services for all stages of a project in the upstream and downstream energy and resource development industries, including professional engineering, construction management, project management and essential services and support personnel.

Energy Resourcing Australia has an annual turnover of about $100 million, almost $80 million of which is generated throughout Australia.

General manager Nicole Kirwan-Ward said the business provided engineering and support specialists for contract assignments worldwide, including all aspects of payroll, taxation, insurance, mobilisations, medical matters, insurances and overall contract management.

"We're really in a good space at the moment and we have seen a meteoric rise in the sector, particularly in the last couple of months," Ms Kirwan-Ward told WA Business News.

In Australia, the business operates a recruitment centre for engineering contracting organisations, managing the flow of all recruitment activities between the business and a panel of specialist third-party supplier organisations.

Ms Kirwan-Ward said many large organisations used the company because of the integrated services it offered, which involved dealing with large volumes of contractors, mobilising people globally, coordinating multi-currency payrolls, and managing dynamic master vendor services.

"We consider ourselves to be a niche player in an active local and global market, so basically that means there is a lot of competition," she said.

However, she said that, in the past three years, Energy Resourcing had endured a raft of challenges ranging from a slowdown in the oil and gas industry to restrictions to 457 visas.

"That [457 visas] has been a big factor, as it means that clients are less willing to accept quality candidates from overseas," Ms Kirwan-Ward said.

"As a result, there are still many roles that are difficult to fill. Headhunting is still prevalent, and competition for contract management services remains strong."

Energy Resourcing has also experienced a significant shift in demand from its clients.

Instead of requiring merely "classic" services such as search, selection and recruitment, clients now expect comprehensive candidate care and contractor management campaigns, as well as up-to-the-minute industry knowledge to be released frequently.

Ms Kirwan-Ward said clients were now seeking local market intelligence, benchmarking of salaries, as well as value-added services such as schooling for overseas workers' children and information on medical insurance and personal indemnity insurance.

"Fortunately we were able to identify this trend in shifting demand and adapt before it impacted the business," Ms Kirwan-Ward said.

"The new focus allowed us to keep turnover and production high when perhaps others felt the sting of the economic slowdown more keenly."

After identifying this need, Energy Resourcing re-structured its organisational framework and priorities.

The company began by identifying ways of adding value to clients.

"We decided that a new strategic direction was needed to set ERA apart as both a service and knowledge provider," Ms Kirwan-Ward said.

An integrated services division was established, which enables the company to streamline services, while a corporate intelligence division was created to gather market information for clients.

The unit's primary responsibilities are to research industry trends, keep on top of groundbreaking projects and technologies, and examine roles, movement and key figures within oil and gas sectors.

The unit then distils some of that information into publications and newsletters and the information is distributed internally to Energy Resourcing to ensure that all employees are up-to-date with industry news and general knowledge.

"We have seen a great increase in the amount of high-standard knowledge and expertise amongst staff," Ms Kirwan-Ward said.

"This is then reflected back in everyday communications to candidates and clients who are also invested and interested, thus improving our position as leaders of industry knowledge."

Since the company implemented the strategies it had been able to weather the global financial crisis, with an increase in the number and level of services provided to clients.

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