Looming Talent Shortage Biggest Threat to Oil and Gas
Believe it or not, the biggest threat to the oil and gas industry isn’t the $45 bbl, +/- $5 price we are seeing today. For the foreseeable future, there will be less conventional and more unconventional ways to retrieve crude as innovation continues, so product is not the issue. The real threat is that skilled workers will be retiring in the next few years creating a smaller pool of highly skilled workers to choose from, which is a major threat to businesses struggling to work with lower crude prices. The experts in oil and gas will be retiring leaving newly hired millennials with a keen eye for new technology to propel the industry. Businesses that have the foresight to appeal to millennials and younger employees will be more successful in the long run.
Lachit Deka, a senior engineer at GASCO, wrote an article a few months back stating that 40-50% of the skilled workforce in the Energy sector will retire in the next 6-10 years. Imagine if 50% of your skilled workers got up and left the company taking all that cumulative knowledge with them. Many companies would not survive! Of course businesses will have the foresight to hire new employees and train them as best as they can, but even the best trained new hires still won’t have the +25 years experience some of the most skilled oil and gas employees carry. As businesses have been downsizing, many of the employees that are let go are mid-career workers and highly skilled, late-career workers are kept due to their business knowledge. In order to save money, businesses are hiring early-career workers that have a degree, unlike many mid-career workers in oil and gas. This is creating a massive knowledge gap in the business.
Retaining the knowledge of late-career, skilled workers is not as difficult or as daunting a task as you may think. Business process and management (BPM) software that is designed for the Energy sector already exists and is available to help businesses capture the valuable knowledge of experienced employees and create best practice workflows and training opportunities. To start, retiring employees can transfer best-practices into electronic forms and create protocols for new employees to follow. Any and all documentation pertaining to those protocols can be scanned and attached so that they can be referenced at any time using BPM software. Robust BPM software will allow workers to access protocols and files on mobile devices, which is a huge turn-on for millennials. Adopting new technology won’t just help businesses retain priceless information, it would help attract a younger worker pool that is used to working with software and mobile technology. The business with the best technology will attract the top talent.
Even though crude oil prices aren’t as high as the industry wants them, it is evident that the impending shortage of skilled workers in the next few years is the biggest threat to oil and gas. Although new hires will most likely have a college degree, they will lack the experience needed to immediately replace veteran workers. BPM software designed for the Energy sector will assist businesses looking to transfer retiring employee knowledge to early-career, millennials. Oil and gas as a whole is starting to adopt new technologies to assist current procedures and to prepare for new, unconventional methods of crude retrieval and pipeline maintenance. Businesses who do not adopt new technologies will not be as successful as the younger worker pool is attracted to relatable and innovative technologies.