10 Apr, 2013

How to Build Competent People – Fast

The Big Crew Change  is no longer just a prediction of a looming exodus of experience.  It’s happening. And while the industry is losing experience, it is gaining talent and energy from all the younger professionals. In five years, or maybe less, the industry will have ‘flipped’ from one full of ‘old guys’, to a completely different demographic of mostly younger professionals. It’s time to be sure that we hand over the know-how to this, the world’s biggest industry, to these young professionals – and let them carry it forward.  We don’t have much time.  

Having entered the industry during the heyday of the late 1970s and 1980s, about one third of our current workforce of experienced technical professionals will soon retire.  In fact many already have, and the result is sobering. In every corner of the industry, the average amount of experience is quickly falling. Before long, more than 25% of petro-professionals will have less than five years of experience.  The talent, energy and new perspective these young professionals add can be a big win for our industry IF they can build on the best of what we’ve done and not have to learn the hard way by repeating the mistakes we made in our careers.

The industry needs fast, deliberate action now to transfer experienced knowledge to this next generation of petroleum professionals. This will give them the opportunity to build on our foundation rather than reinventing the wheel. The changing technology of unconventional oil and gas, along with the intensifying pressure of a post-Macondo regulatory environment, makes the job of handing over the ‘keys’ to a new generation even more challenging.  

Unprecedented Challenges Require Innovative Solutions

Speed will be critical to close the widening experience gap. Reducing the ’time to autonomy’ for new hires will mitigate the risk associated with competency gaps, and preserve high levels of productivity.  here are a couple of ways to streamline this process.

1. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.

The PetroSkills Alliance, which now represents more than 40% of the world’s total oil and gas production, has developed competency maps, formal development programs, and work experience inventories that define the knowledge and skills petroleum professionals need to achieve competency in every position.  Skilled application AND development activities provide a reliable road map to quickly develop and ensure technical competence.

These competency maps provide a common benchmark for all companies in the industry and a common language to help line-level operating teams and HR/training managers work together. This provides a seamless solution to quickly define exactly what people need to be able to accomplish before they can work safely, effectively and autonomously, while creating approaches (courses, work experiences, and coaching/mentoring) to develop those capabilities.

2. Quickly deliver learning when, where and how your new hires need it.

The oil and gas industry is a worldwide enterprise that requires always-on access to vital resources. The PetroSkills Alliance was built for this purpose.  Under member companies direction,  we have developed the world’s most comprehensive array of industry-approved public and in-house courses, many with field trip components. We will deliver more than 2,000 course sessions around the world this year. Many are customized to meet the specific, local needs of operating and service companies.

We have also applied novel technology to create a new way of attending classes – live, in real time, online – without compromising on the class experience.  It’s called PetroFlex, and it gives team managers more flexibility than ever before to manage the competency of their teams without bearing the cost and inconvenience associated with travel.

PetroCore Reference also leverages technology to provide 24/7 access to technical knowledge online, on the job, anywhere, and at any time. For fresh graduates and other new entrants to the industry, PetroCore Reference ensures faster on-boarding and cuts the time needed to reach technical autonomy. For early-career and senior technical professionals, PetroCore Reference can significantly reduce the risk of costly operational error, while it increases productivity.

Moving the Industry Forward

It’s time to act now to close the competency gaps in your career, your team, or your company – with fresh thinking in competency development and assurance.  The ground-breaking work of the PetroSkills Alliance and the resources of PetroSkills are available to all oil and gas companies and individual professionals.  

To join the member companies of the PetroSkills Alliance and help advance competency, productivity and safety throughout the industry, contact Gerry Ross, Executive Vice President, Alliance Membership. +1.800.821.5933

[1] The first published use of the term “Big Crew Change” was in the 1998 SPE paper 39359 by George Boykin, then head of drilling for Amoco:  A Global Drilling Organization: The Role of the Drilling Professional .  In that paper, with some foresight, he outlined the demographic challenges we now face