Where Can My Oil and Gas Skills Take Me in the Energy Transition?

Where Can My Oil and Gas Skills Take Me in the Energy Transition?
A report finds that more than one-third of the oil and gas sector is considering pursuing opportunities in renewables.

As the energy landscape changes and the workforce faces instability, people of all stages in their professional career are asking how they can apply skills, knowledge, and training to areas such as renewables and geothermal energy.

"The oil, gas and chemicals industry was built on human ingenuity; innovation and grit; and it is that same spirit that will forge the industry’s next reboot and revitalization,” Duane Dickson, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. oil, gas and chemicals leader, commented in a written statement highlighting his firm’s study The Future of Work in Oil, Gas and Chemicals: Opportunity in the Time of Change. “Companies that choose to see the coming decade as an opportunity for transformation will likely not just outlive this compression but may even lead the industry into the future of work. By putting people at the core of business transformation strategies, the industry may hopefully regain its appeal and position itself for what’s expected to be a much different landscape in the future.” 

Transitioning skills from traditional energy sectors: What research shows

Skill gaps will be the driver behind the learning curve employers are already seeing between jobs in the oil and gas industry and roles in renewables, said Beth Bowen, president, The Americas—Brunel (AMS: BRNL), a global workforce provider focusing on engineering and technical solutions across the oil and gas industry, mining, renewables, and life sciences.

According to Energy Outlook Report 2021, developed in part by Brunel, companies are looking at closing the skills gap by targeting transferable skills from other industries, training and development of existing workforce, and partnering with colleges, to name a few.

“We expect the learning curve to vary based on the type of role that is actually transitioning, for example, whether it’s technology or word process driven,” Bowen said. “We see helping potential employees close this gap as the number one essential piece to ensuring there is the available future workforce for renewables.”

The report – based on data from more than 22,000 energy employees, job searchers, recruiters, and companies – states that more than one-third of the oil and gas sector is considering pursuing opportunities in renewables, while only 12.3 percent are considering chemical engineering.

Daniel Raimi, published author and teacher of an energy and climate change policy class at the University of Michigan, said renewables seem to interest many of the students he’s taught during the years. Also a Fellow at Washington, D.C.’s nonprofit research institution Resources For the Future (RFF), Raimi said there may now be very different implications for people and communities that rely on the oil and gas industry than during a traditional three- or four-year boom/bust. From his perspective, that means climate and policy changes will (or at least should) play a big part in the energy transition “if policy-makers are serious about addressing these challenges,” he said.

“I have a lot of students who are enthusiastic about engaging directly in policy and politics to effect the change they want to see in the world,” Raimi said, noting some of his students are now at companies such as ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB), Total (NYSE: TOT), DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), and electric vehicle start-up Rivian, which is selling 100,000 vehicles to Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) as part of its pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a CNBC article published in February.

Answering the call for training and development

More than 40 percent of employees feel insufficient education and training is the biggest driver of the worsening skills shortage, according to Energy Outlook Report 2021. And it’s something the workforce wants included in compensation packages, that and job stability.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for especially the renewable space if companies can create an overall compensation package of training, long-term career progression, and stability,” Bowen said. “I think the first companies to get it right are going to have a real advantage attracting top talent.”

Brunel is teaming with Energy Delta Institute to launch the first post-graduate degree in hydrogen for experienced technical and legal professionals. This is a technology Raimi said he was hopeful could be explored more.

“The driver for this partnership comes from critical needs in a changing world to secure and transition highly experienced specialists and take them from a traditional energy skillset to more environmentally friendly technologies,” Bowen said.

Raimi is passionate about these topics as well, believing policies, education, and programs are needed most to help much of the displaced workforce make a move to other industry sectors.

“If we are going to take our climate change problem seriously it’s going to mean a transition that we’ve never seen before, and it’s going to affect a lot of people,” he said. “My recent work has mostly been focused on what public policies can be most helpful to support the people in the places that are affected by this transition. We don’t have all the answers, but we know that workforce training is going to be an important part of the solution.”


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Ron Segev  |  April 06, 2021
It was interesting to see that Brunel University is offering a post graduate degree in hydrogen technology. Will anyone address the issue of hydrogen production? Over 93% of the economically viable hydrogen is still produced by methane reforming.