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Skill Gaps in the Oil & Gas Industry: What Companies Should Do

Today’s oil and gas executives seem to be caught in the crossfire between the inevitability of digitalization from one side and skills gaps in the oil and gas workforce from the other. Digital transformation is an integral part of the business landscape. However, too often, the oilfield workforce is not ready to embrace all the challenges brought by modern innovations. Therefore, the skill gap is growing, putting business prosperity under threat.

The Causes of Skill Gaps


As companies rushed into innovative technologies to stay afloat, it was just too much for employees to process, widening the oil and gas skills gap. Especially so, since this technological upgrade was not always complemented by consistent training. Consequently, people who have been in the industry for years suddenly realized that they don’t meet the current professional standards that have changed almost literally overnight.

Those who managed to quickly adapt and acquire new skills did it spontaneously, often on the spot, and driven by their personal sense of responsibility. However, as management didn’t create any straightforward description of a new set of in-demand skills, such professionals never gained a true understanding of what people in their roles were expected to do in the changing working environment. Therefore, today they can neither leverage nor transfer their knowledge simply because they are not aware of its volumes.

Aging Workforce 

Today, the oil and gas industry is going through a generational shift called “The Great Crew Change.” Baby Boomers who used to dominate the industry are now on the threshold of retirement, and they can’t pass their experience to the new generation because new hirings are not as large as the wave of retirements. This creates a massive skill gap.

But what about those experienced employees who are not planning to retire yet? The problem is that they are not always tech-savvy enough to master new skills. This leaves executives with one viable option — hiring millennials or Gen Z representatives. 

Lack of New Talent 

It has already become commonplace that younger workers have different career priorities. They are concerned about their environmental conditions, seek work-life balance, and look for innovations in their everyday tasks. All of these make it hard for the oil and gas industry to attract and retain them.

Strategies to Address the Skill Gaps Problem 

Companies can try various approaches trying to mitigate the skills gap. It’s wise to choose the one that meets your business needs or combine several tactics to achieve the best results. 

  1. Train existing employees – You can either organize an in-house training schedule or hire training experts to design a unique program for your company. In each case, make sure that the program covers both theoretical and practical aspects.
  2. Create new job opportunities – Inviting young specialists is about building a solid professional foundation for the industry’s future. This means that companies will have to rethink their policies regarding inclusivity, environmental responsibility, and career growth opportunities to create workplaces that will look attractive to younger specialists.
  3. Automate processes – Some companies prefer not to puzzle over employee training or new talent engagement. Instead, they choose to replace humans with machines and automate their tasks. Such an approach has undeniable benefits, as automation has the potential to reduce accidents and injuries while bringing additional value to the industry. 
  4. Outsource projects and tasks – Partnering up with external companies to augment your staff with new talent can help solve short-term tasks. External oil and gas professionals are pre-trained to quickly capture your tasks, close the skill gap, and contribute to the overall business strategy. 
  5. Attract professionals from other industries – Hiring dedicated professionals from other industries is also an option to close the skill gap. As the industry is evolving towards cloud computing solutions, AI, digital twins, and IoT, you can invite professionals who have hands-on experience with these technologies in different fields. 

Closing Thoughts 

As the oil and gas companies started identifying skills gaps that prevent them from growing, it becomes time to choose what tactics will work best for them. This implies testing various approaches and finding a perfect balance between upskilling existing employees and engaging new talents. This process requires large financial investments, so if you need to make sure your effort won’t go in vain, it’s wise to take advice from experienced professionals who will help you close your skill gap before it jeopardizes your ROI.