This page reflects viewpoints on the political, economic, cultural, technological, and environmental issues that shape the future of the petroleum industry. Offshore
Magazine invites you to share your thoughts. Email your Beyond the Horizon manuscript to David Paganie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BEYOND THE HORIZON
It is ironic that, despite the slowdown and the offloading of jobs
over the past few years, the oil and gas industry is facing a potential
skills shortage as well as - perhaps more understandably - a morale
and reputational issue both inside and outside.
Some of the recent figures are stark. In a survey of 1,200 young
Americans by EY, 62% of 16 to 19 year olds said a career in oil and
gas was ‘unappealing’; a Rigzone poll found that only 34% of workers
are happy with their current oil and gas employment; and the recent
low number of applicants pursuing petroleum degrees at Nor wegian
universities demonstrate that the oil and gas industry is no longer
among the first choice career paths.
From being put off by the ‘boom and bust’ nature of the market to
a change in young people’s attitude toward social responsibility and
cleaner technologies, it’s clear that the oil and gas industry needs
to ‘up its game’ to ensure that good people stay and that the next
generation of engineering and leadership talent are attracted to it.
Furthermore, some experts claim that the industry has only itself
to blame in failing to communicate properly on the innovations and
clean technologies it delivers to increase efficiencies in carbon management and preserve the environment.
So how can we make the oil and gas industry a more attractive
destination and long-term home for people?
Firstly, the commercial oil and gas industry needs to have greater
prominence at the university level in both encouraging people to
take oil and gas engineering-related degrees and in strengthening
the courses themselves.
There needs to be a clear answer to the question – why should I
dedicate years of my life to petroleum-related degrees if my employ-
ment prospects are determined by the cyclical nature of the industry?
This requires more than just the occasional software or hardware
donation, or an executive turning up intermittently to take a ques-
tions and answers session. It should be about long-term partnerships
deeply ingrained in both institutions, the sharing of best practices,
and regular hands-on experience and knowledge sharing between
industry and academia.
At the University of Aberdeen, for example, a number of our employees teach course modules on field development planning as
part of the M.Sc and M.Eng Petroleum Engineering degrees. At the
University of Yangoon in Myanmar, we are also up-skilling technical
professional and energy ministry staff.
From providing support at university admissions fairs to ongoing
internships and recruitment activities, there is still much more the
oil and gas industry can do. This strong link between universities
and the private sector not only ensures that such graduates have the
necessary skills and expertise to hit the ground running when enter-
ing the industry, but also demonstrates that oil and gas companies
are ready to provide long-term, fulfilling careers.
When getting this message across, it is also important to stress the
environmental and technology credentials of the oil and gas industry
today – this is seen by many as one of the industry’s key turn-offs.
There subsequently needs to be a greater focus on how digitization,
smart wireless-based technologies, and innovative software is changing the landscape and improving field productivities and efficiencies,
as well as how the industry as a whole is committed to helping the
world shift toward cleaner forms of energy.
AGR, for example, is heavily involved in the Natural Environment
Research Council Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil & Gas - a collaboration of academia and some of the world’s leading oil and gas
companies - with the aim of training the next generation of geoscientific
and environmental researchers.
According to BP CEO Bob Dudley, “we need people who are curious,
people who can challenge the status quo and who can come up with
new solutions.” It is up to us to attract both IT and environmentally
Training also needs to improve within oil and gas organizations.
Whereas previously, there was too much of a focus on ‘off the shelf’
training, there needs to be more customized programs targeted at
specific regions and specific skills.
In short, training needs to be employee-led, tailored for specific
goals, aspirations and career progression and where employees have
control over the process. They need an understanding of where they
are now, where they need to be at the end of their own learning path,
and how it relates to their position within the organization.
There’s also enormous potential in training to share best practices
and technologies across regions. Training should also be stimulating,
engage the senses, and be rooted in real-life situations that participants
can take back and implement in their day-to-day roles.
The oil and gas sector is at a crossroads. Rather than an industry
entering its twilight years, it must be seen a viable, long-term industr y
that attracts and excites prospective and current employees well into
the future. Academic partnerships and training innovations will have
a crucial role to play in achieving this.
Academic partnerships and training are
key to industry recruitment and retention