A new study from Ernst & Young suggests companies may need to also invest in ensuring their workers are capable of using that new technology. The study found that data analytics and insight is one of the top three trends expected to positively impact energy company growth over the next three years. At the same time, the survey found 3 in 5 workers will need to be reskilled or upskilled. The ability to reskill will determine their company’s success over the next three years, about 92 percent of oil and gas executives told Ernst & Young.
Tim Haskell, U.S. Oil & Gas People Advisory Services leader at Ernst & Young, said it’s not enough to invest in technology, companies must invest in the workforce needed to handle the coming increase in data volumes as well as competition from other industries for workers.
“Only 48 percent had a coherent plan to reskill workers,” Haskell told the Reporter-Telegram in a phone interview. “Companies have to have a cohesive approach driving the reskilling agenda. They need to be more methodical in their continued learning capabilities. It’s not slowing down.”
He said that in 2014, companies were operating twice as many wells with half the workforce. This year, he said, digital adaptation has accelerated, while the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and oil market crash has resulted in draconian labor cuts.
“How they use digital technology will be more important,” Haskell said.
While oil company executives are aware of the need for ensuring their workforce is adequately skilled, they’re not sure how to do it, he said. At the same time, they face the competing priority of surviving the downturn that is a barrier to upskilling and reskilling workers.
Ernst & Young’s clients must ask what investments they can take to help their workers gain the needed skills.
“What companies do not have to be expert at is that technology,” he said. “They do need to be expert in is its application to their business.”
Haskell said there are a number of training resources available -- from local colleges to the technology giants such as Microsoft, Google and Snowflake that offer oil and gas applications and can provide training.
Collaboration with other companies -- – which he called digital batching -- will also be important, he said.
“Workers can learn skills – whether they’re blue collar or white collar, it doesn’t matter. A small operator drilling only a few wells can take advantage of that infrastructure,” he said.
Collaboration must be open, Haskell said. For example, if a company opens up its subsurface data, that provides multi-channel open source information across the value chain.
The energy industry has shed probably 20 percent of its U.S. jobs in the last few years, and the pandemic accelerated what everyone know would be further job losses, Haskell said. But he said adapting digital technology and ensuring workers are reskilled and upskilled would create not fewer jobs but different jobs.
“That’s why reskilling and upskilling is so important,” he said. “Oil and gas jobs will be competing for these skills with other industries.”
Oil and gas companies will be competing with a cloud architect company in Austin or a data science company in Denver, he said. “The talent market is a lot different.”
Data analytics will be critical or very important, and cloud computing skills will also be critical or very important to an energy company’s success in the next three years, he said.
“The good news is the oil and gas industry has a lot to celebrate, and it needs to market that in terms of recruiting. Companies need to be aware of public perceptions, like the drive toward decarbonization,” Haskell said.
He suggested that recruitment efforts focus on the ability to work with cutting-edge technology amid a diverse workforce. Furthermore, he said, it could entice new workers by saying they’ll have the ability to change the industry from the outside in with next-generation technology.
BP, with its focus on the energy transition and work on renewable energy, is an example of a company taking the bull by the horns and using the competition as a challenge, Haskell said.
“They’re not moving away from fossil fuels but looking at how to keep them more competitive,” he said.
The original article was posted on MRT here