Addressing the Skills Gap in Oil & Gas

The oil and gas industry is facing a significant skills gap. There aren’t enough people with the required skill set to take on the work available effectively. The 2022 Energy Sector report by Brunel found that 43% of current energy workers globally want to leave the industry within the next five years. 

So, what’s causing this mass exit that has, in part, led to a skills gap? 

Five Causes of the Skills Gap in Oil & Gas 

The rapid pace of digitalisation 

New technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the Internet of Things are transforming global industries. The oil and gas industry is innovating and quickly advancing toward digital transformation. Today’s oil and gas workers need advanced technical skills to execute work in a highly digital environment. Not enough workers have access to the required knowledge to upskill. 

An ageing workforce 

The ECITB’s 2021 Workforce Census found that more than a third of employees are over 50. If you’re like us, you probably don’t like to think of 50 as old, but what we have is an ageing workforce, with a large proportion heading for retirement within the next one to two decades.

The oil and gas industry needs to attract and retain a younger workforce to keep going. Currently, only 12% of the workforce is under 30 (ECITB). Older professionals are taking their skills with them as they retire, and there isn’t enough fresh talent to replace them. 

 Lack of new talent/enthusiasm 

Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry does not have the same appeal it once did. According to the Energy Outlook 2022 Report, workers aged 25 to 29 are 25% more likely to want to leave the energy sector than older professionals. The top reasons for wanting to quit include the following:  

  • personal lifestyle changes (24%) 
  • low salary (21%)  
  • lack of benefits (20%) 

The lack of enthusiasm to join the industry is evident in the declining enrolment for petroleum engineering courses at British universities. In 2019, the Director of the Petroleum Geoscience MSc at the University of Manchester noted that they had 23 students graduate from the course, compared to 45 in 2014 (Rigzone, 2019).  

 The great resignation 

There has been a well-documented rise in the number of people leaving their jobs after the pandemic. Resignations are on the rise, and there are little signs of it slowing down. For instance, from July to September 2022, job vacancies in the UK were 56.6% more than in January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels (Official national statistics). Some vacancies could result from growth in specific industries, but overall, companies need to consider the significant change in the mindset of workers.  

 A move to other energy resources

As the world focuses on the impacts of climate change and the need for renewable energy, the oil and gas sector lost some talent to other industries. More young people are choosing to start their careers elsewhere. A 2020 PWC report found that oil and gas was the number one industry millennials wanted to avoid working in because of its image.  

Even older workers are rethinking their careers in oil and gas. Statistics from AirSwift’s 2022 report found that 82% of current oil and gas workers would consider switching to another energy sector in the next three years. 

So, what can businesses do to address the skills gap? Four Ways to Address the Skills Gap in Oil & Gas  

Identify the gaps 

Consider and evaluate the skills in your organisations against what you need to achieve your business goals. Highlight any gaps you need to address and establish a plan of action. 

Invest in training 

Invest in upskilling your existing team. In-house or off-site training could help your team obtain the skills needed to execute upcoming projects successfully. Ensure the programme focuses on practically applying knowledge rather than just theory. At Aurora, we put great emphasis on this, offering practical training to our clients whilst we work together on a project.

We understand the theoretical side is essential, but your team might need more than an online video to embed the necessary know-how in your team. We help clients understand the gaps in their organisation, to identify the relevant support and training needed to expand their capabilities. 

Reposition job opportunities 

Consider ways to make job openings more attractive to young professionals. Ensure your company policies on inclusivity, environmental responsibility, and career growth opportunities align with the needs of a diverse workforce. Ask for feedback and implement changes to drive retention and productivity. 

Outsource complex projects  

Finding new staff can take time and isn’t easy. But you can expand your team with an external subject matter expert. Outsourcing work is an effective way to immediately access the skills and expertise you need to complete a project. This approach frees up your team’s time to work on other tasks while ensuring that more complex projects are delivered to a high standard. 

Contact us at Aurora today to discuss how we can support your drilling projects.