Training and Development: The Battleground for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in the Oil and Gas Industry
Guest blog By: Don Shoultz, Head of Upstream Learning and Development, BP
Over the next 20 years, global energy growth is expected to be dominated by emerging economies, with primary energy use growing by nearly 40 percent*. As a result, the exploration and production (E&P) industry will be tasked with accessing hydrocarbons in new, more challenging frontiers. These challenges will require increased skills, capabilities and technologies across the world; meeting them starts with a disciplined, methodical and long-term learning and development plan.
Along with the steadily increasing global energy demand and fierce competition for talent among the region’s oil and gas industry sector employers, there are three additional factors driving the demand for progressive learning and development programs:
- Experienced professionals are retiring and being replaced by younger, less experienced hires;
- The complexity of the resource plays being explored and the rapidly changing portfolio of technology required to enable production; and
- Nationalisation requires a new orientation to how the oil and gas industry engages and develops employees.
Bridging the Talent Gap
A sense of concern across the industry stems from the need to attract, retain, train and develop talent. A recent BP-sponsored Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Survey revealed an industry-wide desire for training.
Three-quarters (74.6 percent) of the survey’s participants stated that access to training and development programs is pivotal in their choice of role, and more than half (53.3 percent) said a lack of opportunities would be enough for them to consider leaving.
Fortunately, the industry is taking deliberate steps to close the talent gap while aligning and accelerating all areas of development.
Embracing New Ways of Learning
E&P becomes more complex each day, and the technology used by petro-technical experts continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
Considering 86 percent of all respondents said starting a career in oil and gas requires training, such development programs address a pressing need to cultivate and enhance deep geoscience and engineering capabilities.
Additionally, the data showed business skills are critical factors for career development and advancement. A holistic training and development program will enhance not just the way employees do their jobs, but ways in which they collaborate.
The complexity of work also creates the need to change the way we define “success” in learning and development. Gone are the traditional “transactional” means of measuring the number of classroom attendees or passing grades. At BP, we measure learning and development in terms of business impact and performance metrics.
Unlocking potential requires a blend of formal classroom training, on-the-job training, experiential learning and purposeful mentoring. Bearing in mind that 25 percent of respondents felt a lack of training is detrimental to their careers, we should continue to strengthen uniform standards, centering on a holistic and performance-based approach to learning and development across companies, organizations, universities and borders. The result: enhanced capabilities for the entire sector.
Focus on Emerging Markets and Building Global Capability
Every year, the E&P segment expands its geographic reach with new resource holders. As our scope of work expands in both complexity and geography, we seek to develop high-performing national employees through partnerships with National Oil Companies.
For example, major oil companies have historically partnered with in-country universities to better equip them with the knowledge, technology and expat expertise that are required for today’s workforce. Enhanced consistency will enrich the quality and depth of the education at universities in various emerging regions. We should seek more uniform standards and closer collaboration with universities to support focused, regional learning and development programs.
This broad collaboration with governments, resource holders and universities not only stimulates the local economy, but demonstrates a commitment to the areas in which the major oil companies operate. Together, we are better able to foster and encourage diversity of thought and workforce within the industry.
Nurturing talent and having an engaged workforce is a key to the oil and gas industry’s competitive advantage in the battle for talent. The challenge is to position E&P as the industry of choice by maximizing capability in established and emerging regions, increasing diversity and creating compelling long-term career paths built on life-long learning. Applying a long-term approach to employee development helps to strengthen continuity in the competencies, skills and, most importantly, performance needed for this vital industry to not just endure, but to thrive.
*BP Energy Outlook 2030