The simple answer to the question posed in the title is “yes”. Yes, there is a skills crisis in the oil and gas sector. More than half of those working in the industry believe that the skills shortage is the biggest challenge facing the industry now and into the future.
Retirement of older talent
The first factor causing a skills crisis is “The Great Crew Change”. Older workers are leaving, reaching retirement age, and taking the skills, expertise and knowledge along with them. This loss of institutional memory is worsened by a lack of focus on talent acquisition in recent years.
In 2019, the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) published a report emphasising the skills gap and blaming cuts to graduate recruitment and apprenticeships during the oil downturn. With increased costs and lower productivity, the investment in such talent acquisition is expected to decrease even more. Consequently, without redress, the situation is thought likely to worsen in the next five years.
Changing tech demands
The increasingly technical requirements of positions heighten the skills gap crisis. Many graduates are attracted to other areas of the tech sector and do not find the needs of the oil and gas sector seductive. When there is Silicon Valley or the fast-paced development of Sichuan Province in China, there is little to find appealing about an industry that is facing an existential threat from regulation and environmental concerns.
The talent drain may become even more pronounced. The same GETI survey, which spoke to 17000 oil and gas professionals, and found that 42% of respondents were considering a move to renewables in the next three years. The new generation of tech workers are less interested in a high salary and instead demand a role with the potential for promotion and one that fits with their values.
It is also a changing profile of technical talent required. In the past, it would be an engineer required for work onsite. Today, the new roles in the sector will be data scientists, analytics and the advancement of automation technologies. The Internet of Things is revolutionising the industry, and with this evolution, companies are collecting more digital data. This change in the ways of working has the potential to improve worker safety, plan for smoother digs, monitor reservoirs, maintain inventories and more. However, the sector needs the best software engineers to make use of the potentials of the technology and the data coming in – but we are back to the issue of more appealing roles for those skilled in this sector.
Towards a solution
Many see the answer to the problem in reputation management. To attract the new generation of technical workers, the oil and gas sector needs to change the perception that the young have of the industry. Others see the solution in training and benefits packages. Only 30% of those asked felt that a higher salary could attract talent. Therefore, the focus needs to be on the packages offered. What can the sector offer in terms of opportunities? Is there the potential to grow in a career and to travel and work with the latest technology?
Ex~i Flow works to support the oil and gas sector. Contact us today to see how we can meet your technological requirements.