Tackling the Skills Shortage Challenge in the Oil, Gas Industry

Changing Industry Expectations

With an aging workforce, the Great Crew Change is happening across all industries. Graduates are also entering a changing workforce, one that is more demanding.

In years past, Colborn worked to prepare young professionals for the world of work, and job training included things such as making sure to show up on time and basic knowledge of the industry. The understanding was that the industry would pick up from there.

That’s just not the case anymore.

“What we’re seeing is technical skills life cycles have shrunk. Employers are increasingly finding it difficult to invest directly in their workforce to supply these skills,” Colborn told Rigzone. “For even entry-level positions, there is a large expectation to do more.”   

Labor markets are tighter and the war for talent is continuing. Millennials will be the generation to take the reins of the industry as their older counterparts retire. Many oil and gas employers recognize the unique characteristics of millennials, which will require different recruiting methods and strategies. Research shows that millennials value meaningful work, company values and authenticity among employers.

“Millennials have a notion of wanting to be engaged in a company that is going to provide opportunities and grow their skill base,” Colborn said. “That is absolutely an emerging dynamic shaping expectations of employers.”     

Existing Challenges

There are several challenges to overcoming the skills shortage in the workforce. The Great Crew Change has seen industry veterans retiring and taking with them skills, expertise and wisdom. It takes an average of eight to 10 years for a worker to develop that kind of expertise, Elaine Cullen, president of Prima Consulting Services, told the audience during UH Energy’s panel discussion.

She shared research which revealed the importance of having highly-skilled and properly trained employees.

“In a study of fatalities and catastrophic injuries – which were defined as incidents that had a consequence of more than $100,000 – in a 10-year period from 2001 to 2010, 31 percent of all fatalities and catastrophic injuries happened in the first three months of employment,” Cullen said. “Sixty-six percent occurred in the first year of employment and 90 percent occurred in the first five years.”


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