Developing workforce competency is a four-step process of (1) establishing actual job requirements in the context of organisational structure, (2) assessing and verifying the individual's current competencies against these job requirements, (3) identifying gaps between the current and required levels of competency and (4) generating and executing an Individual Development Plan that closes these gaps. This paper describes the application and implementation of this process for the petrotechnical staff of Cairn India Limited (CIL), through the development of an online Competency Management System for 154 professionals in Geosciences, Reservoir and Petroleum Engineering, Geotechnical IT and Technical Support positions (the "PetroTech" professionals population).

The project objectives were to develop job standards and competency models for petrotechnical personnel, and to identify training needs and provide training solutions for each individual. The methodology involved reviewing existing job descriptions, interviewing jobholders and their supervisors, developing competency statements and job level requirements for each position, and conducting a three-step assessment and verification process to identify skill gaps. The verified assessments were then matched to available training resources so that an Individual Development Plan could be generated for each employee.

All of this work was achieved through a web-based Competency Management System (CMS), which also provided a full set of data analysis and reporting capabilities. In both the initial project rollout that began in 2008 and a follow-up reassessment conducted in 2010, the CMS identified specific focus areas for competency development among work groups, disciplines and individuals. Results underscored the importance of updating the CMS on a regular basis, and provided information on where to focus training priorities on a departmental basis.

The subsequent match of training resources to identified skill gaps has provided a way forward in building a competent geotechnical workforce that meets or exceeds worldwide industry standards.


The drive towards international standards of performance, an increasing nationalisation of staff, aging employee demographics, a shrinking workforce and associated problems of recruitment and retention have caused a major shift in how the oil and gas industry trains and develops its global workforce. The challenges of managing technical staff development are particularly prominent in the Indian oil and gas industry, where some 40 percent of the workforce is of age 50 or above, wages increased 155 percent between 2004 and 2009 despite a stable employee base, and the gap between technical personnel supply and demand is projected to reach 30 percent by 2020 (Sengupta et al, 2010). Moreover, growth in the India E&P sector has resulted in a recent influx of many new graduates, with the requirement for technical development.

Competency-based development is a significant part of this requirement in training and development, and has been adopted in one form or another by a number of companies and industry organisations. The SPE has established its own set of competency matrices as "guidelines used in determining the minimum aptitude levels for petroleum engineers and to establish future industry standards" and to help petroleum engineers "discover areas where [they] need development, seek educational opportunities or project experience and gain relevant skills."

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