The need to develop and nurture new talent within the oil and gas sector is paramount. With esteemed professionals approaching retirement, many organizations are facing the issue of replacing them with new skilled and experienced workers.

Coined the Great Crew Change, a recent article in Rigzone highlighted how BP plans to tackle the expanding skills gap in the market by focusing on graduates.

Lee Clark, oil and gas managing consultant at Eden Scott believes BP’s strategy is essential for an oil and gas operator, however it might be a little late for Aberdeen-based businesses. In order to make a significant impact, operators should have started targeting the graduate market in Aberdeen five years ago. This would have ensured talent would be ready when the Great Crew Change progresses over the next few years.

BP’s strategy will certainly work for the operator on a global scale, however Lee also believes that it’s a different story in Aberdeen. As Europe’s oil and gas capital, many of the world’s key operators are confined to a small geographical area. With so many companies vying for talent in a small market, competing for the best graduates, there simply won’t be enough people to fill all of the roles available.

To make up for the expanding short fall, many companies have taken to ‘fast tracking’ graduates. Pushing graduates into jobs that they’re not ready for incurs a whole host of repercussions. This is especially risky in a highly competitive HSE environment.

Consultancy Work

North Sea experience is always a prerequisite for drilling programs. With talent pools drying up, many companies are offering consultant contracts to temporarily fill the gap.

Whilst there will always be a need for consultant work in oil and gas, when over used companies run the risk of not retaining the level of skills and knowledge.

The Solution

Is the Aberdeen oil and gas market destined to perpetually battle with losing established talent? There certainly isn’t a quick solution to the problem. Whilst graduates and consultant workers will help in the interim, operators need to invest in talent and shift their current expectations in terms of experience.

Rather than North Sea experience, there are other EU professionals that are perfectly suited for the Aberdeen market. By reaching internationally, the Aberdeen oil and gas talent pool can easily be replenished.

Training and career structure are vital to develop new oil and gas professionals. Rather than fast tracking graduates, investing in their skills will help reduce the skills gap. Quick wins and inflated salaries are unsustainable for the market and long term plans should be set.