Editor's Letter: Digital and tech training for oil & gas employees could boost business

The oil and gas industry, despite its rather conservative reputation, is one where new technological advances are making a real difference, says Jonathan Sheikh Miller.

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Industrial techniques and processes inevitably evolve and improve due to the irrepressible human need to innovate and explore. Alexander Graham Bell may have been a pioneer of telephone but, if alive today, he’d stare rather blankly at the phrase “5G”.

The oil and gas industry, despite its rather conservative reputation, is one where new technological advances are making a real difference. Functions that until recently required heavy human involvement and inspection have been largely automated enabling better, swifter and even safer monitoring of essential data.

The oil and gas engineers of yesteryear, out in the field assessing wellheads and casings, would not have understood the significance of the acronym SCADA and how it might revolutionise the role and time management of their successors.

Today, new innovations continually break through and in our September issue we featured an increasingly popular method to enhance oil recovery involving sunshine and steam. More and more conferences and seminars highlight the potential impact of artificial intelligence on the sector or how blockchain will disrupt key facets of the upstream industry.

In essence, oil and gas, like telecommunications or the transport sector, is simply moving with the times, and with that, comes the need for experienced industry professionals to augment and tweak their skillsets, while specialists in areas that perhaps were not an automatic fit just a decade ago, such as digitalisation or cyber security, are now very desirable candidates.

Some analysts suggest the hydrocarbon industry is coming under threat from the renewables sector. Overall, this can only be true to a very moderate extent but, in the cut and thrust of energy industry recruitment, oil and gas does risk losing out to a segment that is seen as more exciting and modern.

A survey earlier this year conducted by Airswift and Energy Jobline, the Global Energy Talent Index, revealed that 63% of respondents believed training and development were the key factors to retaining workers in the oil and gas industry – higher even than the 54% who thought better remuneration would be the defining influence.

Moreover, one in three workers who described themselves as “happy” in their role stated that training opportunities were the number one reason why – more than those who selected job security.

Effective training is greatly appreciated by employees and ultimately it brings value to the organisation.

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