We have all heard the stats about Baby Boomers as the largest generation, the impact they had on the economy as they reached their peak earning years and how their retirement will impact our social safety net. What we only hear about piece-meal is the knowledge gaps they will be leaving in our workforce.
This knowledge gap is especially alarming in industries like oil and gas that hold less appeal for younger workers. Part of the reason why this is such a concern is because the knowledge gap is across the board—refining, extraction, processing and even distribution. Such a widespread knowledge loss is depleting the ranks of specialists like engineers as well skilled workers that fill the ranks of operator and technician positions.
In some recent articles, veteran energy-sector report Harry R. Weber noted how this trend is viewed as a safety threat by many in the oil and gas industry.
A new report warns that a shortage of skilled labor is affecting safety in the global oil industry.
Nearly one third of those surveyed in the report cited the skills shortage as the biggest threat to the sector, while a lack of skilled trainers was identified as a major issue by more than 20 percent of participants. (Read entire post0
The report that Mr. Weber was referring to is the Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey: Expectations for hires and pay rates in the oil and gas industry 2013. In the same report, over 52% of those surveyed said that the greatest demand was for engineers. (Visit Oilcareers.com to download the report)
Lack of Experience Compounds Issues in Oil and Gas
So, on the one hand, you have a high demand for engineers because so many are retiring. This makes sense, but what is perhaps most troubling is that all of those survey see challenges in training a new generation of workers. They cite lack of budget or not getting qualified candidates, and over 40% cited a lack of qualified people to do the training or they can’t offer the full selection of training.
What this all equals is fewer and fewer people that know what to do for lack of experience, and really, not a lot of hope in sight that these newer workers will even get the training they need to ever fill the knowledge gap.
Using FAST to Augment the Oil and Gas Knowledge Gap
One request that WIKA receives all of the time, from end users at plants as well as distributors, goes something like this: “Just tell me what I need to order because I don’t know what instrumentation is going to help me avoid gauge failure or safety risks, etc.”
This type of request has become very dominant over the last decade because of the amount of experience leaving the oil and gas industry. The development of WIKA’s Full Audit Service Program (or FAST) has been one of our responses to that knowledge gap in that we serve as their instrumentation experts—instead of us expecting them to know the answers. With some 20,000-25,000 people leaving the oil and gas industry in the next few years, manufacturer-based services, like FAST, are likely to become the answer to helping serve and train a new generation of workers.