The oil and gas industry is not running out of smart people, it's running out of experienced people, according to a report by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA).
"The industry will have to go through a period of time where it will operate without that history," the report stated.
Australia has experienced labor shortages for a couple of years, creating a backlog of projects, and this backlog is expected to grow in the next five years. More than $200 billion worth of major gas projects will move from the construction phase into the production phase, creating 22,000 new jobs in the industry by 2018. Once these projects hit production, a greater focus on skills development is needed to ensure the industry avoids an under-supply of critical skills in the future, the report stated.
Furthermore, the student professor ratio at universities has almost tripled in the last 15 years.
"One of the problems is not with the student going into the industry but is with the professor leaving the university," AWPA said. "The industry offers the professor more money to work for them rather than stay to educate the next batch of engineers. This is a huge challenge."
In the next five to seven years, an opportunity will arise for a new generation workforce to come into the industry and run it, the report added.
"That's why the future belongs to the digital engineers – it is not something that is desirable, it is inevitable."
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