Filling a ‘planned’ void

Engineers who are trained in inspection-related activities are in high demand. Photo: Bloomberg   | Photo Credit: Adeel Halim

In the last week of June, every year, a manufacturing plant in Pune sends a majority of its employees on a vacation, and gets a new set of temporary workers to fill a ‘planned’ void.

Manufacturing plants will be closed for maintenance-related activities, a situation common in some industries, especially in the oil and gas industry. During this period, companies depend on professionals who can take up what is known as “shutdown jobs”.

“These are highly-specialised jobs and employers look for those with prior experience in it. Usually, companies look for only professionals who are dedicated to carrying out shutdown operations. They are required to work on a tight deadline and round-the-clock, a job a regular employee may not be able to do,” says Mahesh Repal, general manager, Aarvi Encon, a manpower supply and outsourcing company.

While the duration of a special maintenance activity can range from one week to two months every year in most industries, in the oil and gas company, it can be much longer — three to six months.

“It’s a huge market in the Middle East as organisations hire a new set of people to carry out preventive maintenance of equipment,” says Munira Loliwala, business head — EMPI (engineering, manufacturing, process/pharmaceuticals, infrastructure), TeamLease Services.

She says that until some years ago, India and a few Asian countries were a huge recruitment ground for shutdown jobs in the Gulf region. Skilled and semi-skilled workers would be hired in large numbers.

From riggers, planning engineers and maintenance inspectors to project management professionals, a complete team would be put in place at oil refineries.

In India, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation, Nagarjuna Oil Refinery and Panipat Refinery are among companies that hire for specially planned maintenance work.

“Many local manpower services providers have more than 500 people on the bench,” says Munira. She says many look for jobs overseas as the salaries there are higher than those paid by Indian companies.

Engineers with specialisation in mechanical, inspection and planning-related work are in high demand for such jobs.

Mahesh says a majority of companies have a major shutdown scheduled at a fixed time of the year, so supplying a ready pool of talent is not difficult.

From listings at various job portals, there is an indication that a demand for such professionals exists at all times. There are job portals that offer a separate listing for ‘shutdown’ jobs.

According to, most of the postings currently on the portal for shutdown roles have to do with a need for a shutdown engineer, a shutdown maintenance supervisor, a shutdown mechanical supervisor in the oil and gas sector.

“Three to five percent of the jobs are specific to shutdown roles across chemical, petrochemicals, oil, gas and petroleum sectors,” says Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO,, APAC and Gulf.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 11:47:26 AM |

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