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BP: Addressing the Skills Gap

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As upstream oil and gas professionals near retirement, many companies in the sector are facing a major shortfall when it comes to the skilled and experienced people they need as the oil and gas industry continues to expand around the world.

The "Great Crew Change" has focused plenty of minds within the upper echelons of the oil and gas industry. Rigzone recently caught up with BP Head of Learning and Development and the firm's VP for Upstream Resourcing Julia Harvie-Liddel to find out how BP plc is tackling a widening skills gap within the industry.

BP is one company that has recognized the need to take a proactive approach to training in order to obviate the skills gap challenges that it might face. Indeed, the company recently commissioned a survey among oil and gas professionals in several countries that showed that training and development is not just about ensuring your staff has the skills and experience to perform their jobs; more than half of the 773 people surveyed said they would consider leaving an employer over insufficient training and development!

Julia Harvie-Liddel, BP's VP for Upstream Resourcing

In a recent interview with Rigzone, BP Head of Learning and Development Don Shoultz was quick to highlight that BP, for a long time, has had a Challenger Program in place that is designed to equip its employees for their first three years with the company.

"We like it and we think it has good branding for recruiting as well. So we are pretty satisfied with that," he said.

But while an employee who has three or four years of experience might be more than capable of doing a particular job within upstream oil and gas, he may not have the same capabilities as a 25-year employee who has experience gained from all around the world.

How quickly an oil and gas professional with a few years of experience gets to the same level of competence as the typical 25-year employee is often an arbitrary process, depending very much on his or her relationship with supervisors. So BP decided to take steps to help expedite this development.


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A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


Post a Comment Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Mazen Al Omari | Apr. 17, 2013
Great article . Its so good that we hear about companies like bp dealing with this issue as business unusual . We keep wining about the lack of talent in the Oil & Gas Industry since we know it because we keep doing the same thing over and over . Its about time companies take innovative approach both to attract and develop talent . Well done bp.

MoreBPInaccuratePR | Apr. 15, 2013
Like BPs commercials about how wonderful the Gulf Coast is, when the oil lays on the sea bottom now, due to BP using Corexit toxic dispersants - this article is as inaccurate. The truth of the matter with the skill gap at BP is like everything else wrong there, they wait too, dont pay enough and thus lose the good talent. In 2010 - 42% of the Challengers were leaving. BP is begging Amoco and Arco hertitage old timers that are still left, to stay longer while BP tries to play catch up to close the gap. If BP wasnt so arrogant and valued staff with good pay and promotion rather than being selective and thinking it is a privilege to work there - they would have ALL the problems they have there.

Tom Gottschamer | Apr. 11, 2013
"You are never going to get all engineering graduates into an engineering-related profession. The fact that they have logic and the way they are trained at university makes them incredibly marketable to the financial sector, the consulting sector, accountancy, etc," Harvie-Liddel said. I have found this statment to be very true in my experience attending Mizzou for Mechanical engineering and Business! It seems like the business recruiters were always on campus more than recruiters for "STEM" areas. I would jump at the chance to get involved in BPs training programs. Good article.

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