What It Will Take to Bridge the E&P’s Workforce Age and Skills Gap During The Great Resignation

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The Great Resignation has struck all industries, leaving employers scrambling to try and fill the skill gap. For the oil and gas industry, the skills gap is even wider, because there’s also an age gap. The average age of someone working in the oil and gas workforce is 56, and over half of skilled engineering workers will be able to retire in the next ten years.

The industry is facing many challenges in finding and keeping a talented, skilled workforce. In the immediate future, there will be a predicted 1.9 million oil and gas positions that will need filling, and a deficit of hundreds of thousands will remain because of the skills and age gap.

What makes the Great Resignation so complex for E&P?

The E&P industry needs a particular set of skills to thrive. Generations with expertise and experience, people who know the foundations of the industry inside out, are the ones about to retire. Younger generations often have a different set of priorities and interests, and don’t necessarily spend the time to learn about these foundational elements of E&P.

At the same time, the use of technology is becoming more critical for all generations of E&P workers, and younger generations bring this new depth of knowledge. However, they’re not always able or equipped to share that knowledge with previous generations.

On top of those lost-in-translation skills, projects in the E&P industry are just very complex and challenging. The sheer range of skills needed to bring a project to completion is immense. Whether a project is a new asset or a refurbishment, contract lifecycle management, compliance, facility safety, and cost management are just a few of the arenas that new hires have to confront.

How can employers attract and retain workers despite the skills gap?

With the effects of the Great Resignation making themselves felt in the E&P industry, company leaders need to get proactive to attract new talent and new skills, while keeping current workers content and motivated.

  1. Invest in up-to-date tech

Begin speaking to younger workers, and get them fired up to join the industry. By 2030, millennials and Gen Z-ers are predicted to comprise 74 percent of the industry’s workers.

The generation now entering the workforce is tech-native; tech helps them understand and navigate the world, so if your company isn’t adopting technology, these younger workers are likely to feel a little alienated or struggle to find opportunities for themselves. Research shows they prefer to use a range of tools to get their work done, from more traditional productivity tools to apps and virtual assistants. They want to choose their security measures, for example, and they’d prefer to work for a company that applies cloud software solutions to maximize organizational data.

  1. Help employees learn and grow

Prioritizing training and development is a good way to show the younger talent that they can imagine a future in this industry. For today’s job seekers, opportunities that offer continuous learning have an immediate competitive advantage, and for existing employees, 94 percent say they would be more likely to stay at a company that was actively invested in their learning.

Learning and development opportunities don’t have to be serious or expensive commitments. Smaller gestures towards learning, like arranging mentorship conversations or offering afternoons off for training courses, show workers that the company cares about their future.

Cross-training can especially be beneficial. This is where employees are equipped and encouraged to teach other team members from different departments. This type of training works because it offers new skills, learned on the job, while also strengthening the culture of mentorship and community within the team.

  1. Practice more robust succession planning

Leaders often leave succession planning alone because it involves having some tough conversations, and it seems like the reality of succession will always be far away. But these conversations could be an important way to come together as a team and get yourselves on the same page, along with growing some more motivation for the future.

Establishing a mentorship program could be an awesome place to start with succession planning. Succession plans don’t just relate to senior executives — the whole team can benefit from planning for the future of the company, and feeling involved in it.

  1. Develop a culture that Gen Z and millennials want to work for

Culture is correlated with performance when it comes to millennials and Gen Z-ers. They want to work in an environment that places company culture as a priority. Today’s workers don’t want to slot into a company; they want their personalities and their personal goals to matter, and to work amongst a group of unique people who bring their backgrounds to the work environment.

Showing younger generations that you’re aware of how the world is changing, and that you are willing to evolve the way things work in the E&P industry, is a great idea. These demographics are likely to have a vision of oil and gas that is stuck in the past; they need to see that flexibility and change are possible, and that they can be part of your organization’s growth.

The Great Resignation may have hit the oil and gas industry pretty hard, but we now have opportunities to fill the skills and age gaps that exist in our workplaces. Build a culture that bridges these gaps, and you’ll see new and existing workers get a fresh injection of energy and motivation for the challenges ahead.

 

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Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software, has worked with industry-leading organizations, and he has been integral in developing the Enertia application into a resource used by over 150 leaders in the upstream oil and gas industry.

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