Capability Development in the Oil and Gas Sector: Bridging the Skill Gap
Capability development refers to the process of enhancing the core concepts and skills of employees and groups in an enterprise. A strong training strategy is a critical component that not only helps companies to drive growth but also grow of their reputation and profile. Oil and gas companies face several training challenges, ranging from regulatory compliance mandates and training costs to an aging workforce and the need to improve production rates while eliminating environmental incidents and safety accidents.
An Aging Workforce and the Importance of Training
To ensure the efficient development of a workforce’s capabilities and make the best use of the valuable experience and knowledge of senior professionals, it is of paramount importance to formulate a sustainable plan for talent development and succession planning. It is essential for oil and gas companies to structure robust and innovative training initiatives that are increasingly customized, better coordinated, and more thorough in their approach. On-the-job learning, mentoring schemes and establishing in-house training centers are a few effective training methods for upskilling the workforce. Capability development is essential for the petroleum industry to enhance wide range of technical, business and soft skills.
The petroleum industry is currently grappling with a growing skills shortage. Most of the workforce are from the baby-boomer generation and are approaching retirement, taking decades of experience and knowledge with them as they leave. Meanwhile, there are fewer young skilled workers willing to join the oil and gas industry, which is only further contributing to the skill gap. For instance, only 4% of workers in the oil and gas sector are aged between 18 to 24, whereas over 20% of workers are more than 55 years old. Such skill shortages are an acute cause of concern for national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs). Therefore, it is crucial for the oil and gas sector to develop training programs that will augment collaboration between industry employers and enterprises to create a skilled workforce and a sustainable and balanced sector.
Transitioning From Traditional to Innovative Learning Models
Employees can be trained through different pedagogical methods, from classroom or traditional training to e-learning, gamification tools and learning through augmented or virtual reality. Classroom training is still the most common mode of training to equip a workforce but is increasingly unable to meet industry requirements because of a shortage of highly trained instructors, financial support and remote working locations. The key to the future is a blended approach toward learning, which involves an effective combination of classroom and e-learning. This model is becoming more popular among oil and gas enterprises as it can ultimately result in huge savings in the long run. This learning model provides the convenience, cost effectiveness and speed of e-learning, combined with the personal touch of traditional learning, delivered through a large pool of online tutors and subject matter experts.
Simulation-based training is a groundbreaking learning model that has gained significant prominence in the oil and gas sector. This learning model is particularly effective for teaching critical thinking skills in emergency situations. Simulations can create real-world situations for operators and technicians while also providing a safe, risk-free virtual training environment. Simulators are an essential tool for evaluating new hires and enhancing the learning experience for younger employees. For instance, operators gain confidence through simulation-based training as they can practice procedures until they master them and unlearn improper techniques they may have picked up prior.
Training oil and gas professionals to create a competent workforce benefits the entire industry and should be a priority for oil and gas companies. However, most funds are dedicated for exploration or for developing new technologies, while training budgets are considered overhead and are considerably below what they should be. This makes it essential to effectively channel training costs into more cost-effective learning models.