Building a premier technical workforce for the upstream petroleum industry requires knowledge of worldwide business needs, corporate commitment, and guiding principles. Centralized processes for skill development ensure the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of training globally. State-of-the-art tools for skill assessment, course development and delivery, and mentoring accelerate the development of targeted technical skills.


A long-term, corporate commitment to technical excellence is the foundation for building a premier technical workforce for the upstream petroleum industry. This process requires the collaboration of various operating, technical, and support (i.e., training and human resources) functions of an organization. These groups collaborate in hiring and planning, executing, and stewarding skill development. They also collaborate to adapt methods of skill development for a culturally diverse and geographically dispersed workforce.

This paper focuses on principles, processes, and tools that optimize technical training for a global, upstream workforce (Figure 1). Overarching principles that guide training programs set the stage for a discussion of processes for skill development. These processes are presented in the order of their use from hiring through training. Selected tools are then discussed in the context of the associated processes. We also show how technical-training tools can enhance other types of skill development, such as mentoring.

Foundation for Skill Development. Consistent corporate funding for high-quality technical training is required to sustain a commitment to technical excellence over time. Employee access to technical training at all career stages improves productivity as technology develops.

Business systems that predict skill needs in operating organizations guide the development of training programs. Databases of employees' skills are essential for outlining individual training plans. These systems and tools identify existing, optimal skill sets that match individual capabilities and employee interests with company needs (Figure 2). Training is most effective when existing skills sets of individual preference (Figure 2, dots) are extended toward new skill sets that match employee interest with company need (Figure 2, diagonal pattern).

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