After three years of layoffs and heartbreak, could there actually be hope on the horizon?

A major industry study indicates that the tide could be turning. For the first time since 2014, there might be more jobs created than lost over the next 12 months, according to an NES Global Talent study. Oilandgasjobsearch. com contributed to the research, which indicates that almost 90% of employers expect staffing levels to either remain the same or increase in 2018.

More than 60% of employers expect to recruit “significantly” during the next 12 months, with 23% expecting a ramp-up of 5%, 19% anticipating a ramp-up of between 5% and 10% and 17% aiming for an increase of more than 10%. Only 11% of employers expect to cut jobs, according to the survey.

The survey included more than 3,000 employers and almost 7,000 workers for the 2017 report.

Commenting on the survey results, NES Global Talent CEO Tig Gilliam said, “Globally, we are now increasingly confident that the market supports increased investment in the energy sector. Energy companies, with the support of their partners, have right-sized their organizations for the current levels of activity. With a stabilized price environment and lower cost profile, more and more assets offer attractive returns on investment and operations.

“This increasing activity is leading the higher performing companies to refocus on recruiting quality people to lead and deliver value.”

Gilliam went on to say that a sharp increase in U.S. shale activity is leading this activity, but there also has been an uptick in other capital projects globally. “The increasingly positive tone of our clients and contractors is a welcome signal of the turnaround in the market, and the participants in this survey echo that sentiment,” Gilliam said.

To say this is good news would be sort of “master of the obvious” at this point. So many people have lost their livelihoods during this latest downturn, and any glimmer of an uptick is a good thing, even for those who have turned their back on the industry and moved on to other things.

But some people make that decision without a layoff, and I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that my position at Hart Energy will be changing as of Jan. 1, 2018. I’ll still be handling exploration coverage, but it will be on more of a part-time basis while I start to savor the joys of retirement. I’ve worked at Hart for more than 22 years, and I think it’s time to let the next generation have all of the fun. This industry isn’t dead yet. And with the latest influx of Big Data, digitalization, data analytics and the Industrial Internet of Things, there will be plenty to write about for decades to come.