Transforming Traditional Training Methods To Meet the Needs of a Modern Industry
- W.B. Cotton (Network of Excellence in Training)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2001
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 54 - 58
- 2001. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6.10 Coring, Fishing, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 7.6.1 Knowledge Management, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training
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As the oil industry consolidated over the last 20 years, company profiles, core competencies, and the very demographics of many companies have changed radically. This is true throughout the industry and involves operating, service, and drilling companies. As hydrocarbon reserves become more challenging to exploit, the importance of technology plays an ever-increasing role in E&P operations. As the technical complexity increases, many companies are unwilling to support the budgets necessary to maintain noncore technologies in house. Some companies have found it more efficient to outsource these activities to service companies whose technology is a core competence supported by research and engineering. Mergers and acquisitions driven by the strategic need to acquire reserves and/or markets require tremendous rationalizations in the resulting work forces to reduce unnecessary numbers of engineers and technical and administrative staffs. Many operators are trimming engineering staffs whose primary responsibilities are now focused on finding replacement reserves. Operations of mature fields are being outsourced to independents as well as to service companies whose profiles are changing. This trend removes the low-risk environment that has traditionally served as the training ground for new engineers, and outsourcing brings about further reduction of excess engineering staffs. In many cases, this results in a younger, well-educated work force that lacks broad, diverse experience. In their strive for efficiency, many companies have changed the demographics of their work forces, leaving them without the experience needed to mentor young engineers. The increased technology, acquisitions, downsizing, and efficiency along with outsourcing are all contributing factors to the skills gap we are experiencing in the E&P industry today.
Many companies view training as just another necessary expense, not something that actually contributes directly to generating revenue. Most personnel are trained because the employer needs a specific skill. Sometimes, a behavioral change is needed or training is mandated or legislated (as in the case of safety). In other cases, training is a reward for good performance, and the employee is sent on a 1-week seminar in a field of his/her interest. Many view this as a kind of "training vacation." Some companies, however, view training as an investment, an essential element in their work-force strategy. These are also the companies that have performance-management programs and where management is actively involved in the training and development of the company's work force.
Gilley and Boughton1 state that, "The focus of training is to help employees improve and develop knowledge, skills, or competencies for their current jobs. Training can be conducted in both formal and informal learning settings, which include on-the-job activities. The delivery systems used in training can include computer-based training, satellite programs, employee self-directed learning, and on-the-job training."
Formal training programs often attract the most ambitious young graduate engineers. Many of the companies that view training as just another necessary expense recruit graduate engineers with the expectation that they already have the skills necessary to do the job. Coupled with informal on-the-job activities, this academic knowledge meets the staffing requirements of many companies. While careers that are available within this scenario can be secure, many are not very dynamic. Most top graduates are interested in joining a company that can offer a strong training program where they have the opportunity to develop and realize their career potential.
According to Chawla and Renesch,2 "Individuals learn both knowledge and skills. A person acquires knowledge and can present facts based on that knowledge or acquires skills and can perform those skills. The difference between knowledge and skills is the difference between art history and art. Knowledge is talking the talk; skill is walking the talk."
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