Skills shortage in the oil and gas sector is becoming critical and there is no end in sight. There’s a backlog of work to be done and it seems like there’s no qualified employee to fill the job. What can you do?
The oil & gas workforce survey recently published by Air Energi and Oil Career let us know that this is a problem that affects the industry worldwide. In fact, 44% of respondents to the survey (covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East) cited skills shortage as the biggest threat to the industry. After all, what good is a product if you can’t deliver.
There are two major factors which are exacerbating the problem.
- Retiring skills
- Shortage of new skills
Retiring skills is a problem that a number of industries are facing as baby boomers are now reaching retirement age. Some are electing to remain on part-time in a consulting role. Some are simply electing to enjoy their retirement.
As they retire, they take with them decades worth of wisdom and experience related to industry and organizational procedures and practices.
In the highly competitive oil & gas industry, employees are now being hired away to the highest bidder before they have time to hone organization specific skills. Furthermore, as the industry faces explosive growth, university and colleges can’t create enough skilled candidates to meet this growth. And that’s just the beginning.
The Problem Of Training
While the oil & gas industry is certainly aware of this problem, it hasn’t quite got a grasp on a solution.
“Of the more than 550 industry professionals participating in the survey, the majority (75%) confirmed that their organisation offered internal training, although 29% said that there was not a full selection of training available. The other main challenges in employee training were identified as having a lack of quality candidates (28%), a lack of budget (24%), and a lack of skilled trainers (19%).”
If we take a closer look at these concerns starting at the top, a bigger picture emerges.
75% of the organizations surveyed have some form of internal training. This infers that 25% of respondents don’t have any internal training at all. While you can certainly hire the best and the brightest, keeping their skills up to date is equally as important in an industry that changes constantly. From an employee perspective, an investment in training means that the organization has an interest in creating an even better employee. With employee retention and loyalty also being an important issue, anything you can do keep employees happy in their work is worth it.
Management of Change
This may be a result of a lack of budget, which 24% cited as concern. If we look back on the issue of skills shortage, the ideal candidate for a position could be one whose skills are developed internally. If budget is still a concern, then it’s up to the training department to look at training smarter by implementing innovative solutions such as mobile learning and interactive online training. Professional development is also a concern on the radar of many employees. If they feel that there is an upward trajectory within an organization, they’ll likely stick around and help contribute to its growth.
Also a concern is the lack of skilled trainers (19%). In this respect, it’s not as much as flying a trainer from one side of the globe to the other so that they can bring a workforce up to speed. It’s more about taking their knowledge and finding innovative ways to reach a broader audience. Online training will help in that respect as it provides a way to take one or more skilled trainers and create an elearning program that provides the accumulated knowledge to a workforce.
Feeling the crunch of the skills shortage is no laughing matter. In order to help alleviate the pressure, organizations should be looking at improving their existing internal training programs (if they even have them!) by approaching training from a smarter perspective and leveraging existing talent and innovative technology to reach a broader base of employees.