This question was posted to a LinkedIn discussion board by Ganesh Thakur, the 2012 President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The SPE is a leading global industry organization with over 100,000 members in 118 countries and an active LinkedIn group of over 38,000 members. The discussion thread has received over 40 well thought-out and provocative comments from industry participants of all degrees of age, experience, and geographic location.
You can view and participate in this discussion here.
Ganesh Thakur, 2012 SPE President In-Depth
Attracting talent gets to the heart of a well-known problem within our industry. With the continued and accelerated loss of experienced staff due to retirements, how does the industry continue to master new technical and environmental challenges and plan for the future? A steady pipeline of young talent is required to fill these ranks in time to gain the necessary training and experience.
To first address this issue, it must be more widely understood what the scope of this problem really is:
- One large multinational stated that they require 5,000 technical hires over the next 5 years.
- Another says that they could lose 40-50% of their experienced technical staff in the same period.
- Highly automated deepwater drilling rigs coming out of the shipyards will require tens of thousands of skilled operators.
Everyone is competing for the same skilled human resources and the only real solution is to grow the size of the talent pool by an order of magnitude.
Who is on the front lines of this battle?
EKT Interactive actively manages outreach programs and provides mentorship and internship opportunities. Our collaboration with universities and community colleges in Houston has exposed a lack of understanding of energy industry opportunities among career counselors. For example, many counselors do not know the companies, their services and the excellent jobs available in the oilfield service sector – and this in the city where the energy business is entwined with so many aspects of society. Improved communication between industry and training and education providers is evident.
Marty Stetzer, President, EKT Interactive presenting at the SPE Gulf Coast New Hire Orientation
Some commenters in the LinkedIn discussion mentioned that the perception of oil and gas companies is that they are low-tech, and we are all aware of the reputational damage done by the recent BP Horizon accident. In a world where youths are as likely to accept a job for its corporate social responsibility initiatives as its paycheck, where is our industry stacking up?
Finally, opportunities stemming from the boom in shale gas production are leading to workforce supply challenges in that region. States in that region are grappling with how to ensure the current boom translates into long-term economic growth, and one challenge is ensuring the steady supply of skilled workers required by energy companies without cannibalizing other industries. (Related Article: A Summary of Activity in the Marcellus Shale Region)
The SPE has volunteer outreach programs with many schools but much more of an industry push is needed to get the number of future engineers and technicians needed. We should bring the same innovation to solving this problem that we bring to finding & producing hydrocarbons in challenging environments around the world.
About EKT Interactive
EKT Interactive, Inc is a leading provider of customized, large-scale, interactive safety and operations training programs for the oil & gas industry. Our web-based e-learning program, accessible at your convenience, saves time away from the job and travel costs. Online learning modules are developed by field-experienced oil and gas instruction experts using proven web learning applications that closely match classroom effectiveness.
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