New Training Alliance Focuses on Industry's Skills Shortage
- Henry Edmundson (Plato Alliance)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 50 - 51
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Talent & Technology
In recent times, it has become commonplace to read of the oil and gas industry’s skills shortage. E&P projects large and small have been severely limited by supply-chain shortfalls of all kinds, but most notable has been the lack of availability of petrotechnical expertise. Known so familiarly as the “great crew change,” our expertise shortage today is due mainly to the industry’s poor or nonexistent recruiting in industry-periodic downturns, particularly during the late 1980s.
The age demographics of petrotechnical professionals in different operating companies vary enormously, but three factors are usually present. First, the midcareer range tends to be depleted everywhere. Thus, companies are under huge pressure to develop their young people faster than they are accustomed. Second, companies have been very actively recruiting in recent years, at least until the global recession and associated oil and gas price fall, and therefore the number of young recruits requiring professional development is larger than ever before. Third, companies cannot ignore the development of personnel of any age and experience as new technology continually comes into play and must be learned.
So how to get the most bang for our buck when it comes to professional development? Numerous studies have sought to understand the return on investment in training. Time and again, it has been shown that training based on a competency model provides the surest route to spending training money wisely. Competency models provide a firm baseline for assessing skill levels and ensuring training is fit for purpose. It has been shown that training based on a competency model shortens time to professionalism, or time to autonomy as it is also referred to, by at least two years.
Studies also point to the advantage of using a mix of learning methods rather than relying on just one method such as classroom learning. The traditional classroom environment has its place, but so does e-learning, on-the-job learning, case-study learning, and for disciplines such as geosciences, instructional seminars in the field. Finding the right combination at the right time in the development cycle is what counts.
Finally, coaching and mentoring remains an essential requirement in any training program. Training must develop both discipline knowledge and the experience to apply that knowledge. Gaining experience takes time, but it can be dramatically accelerated if a coach is present to provide guidance and a helping hand. Good technical coaching and mentoring is a recognized attribute of all leading training programs.
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