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The oil and gas industry is facing a skills leakage due to recruitment cutbacks, layoffs, and accelerated retirements. Energy companies are rightly concerned as more than 100,000 workers in the U.S. oil and gas industry have been laid off over the past few months.

This talent cannot be quickly or efficiently replaced with traditional hiring, internship, and recruiting efforts. Many young people are skeptical about the career prospects in the oil and gas industry and are favoring the high-tech industries. Furthermore, it is not realistic to expect newly minted engineers to troubleshoot pressure differentials or unstable formations as quickly as a seasoned engineer. The variables and challenges faced in the oil and gas fields around the world cannot be filled with plug-and-play positions. This skills crisis threatens the oil and gas producer’s ability to continue to improve efficiencies and remain competitive.

The oil and gas industry must be equipped to respond quickly to fill the skills and talent gap, and talent must be harvested quickly before it is permanently lost. This means finding out where the skills and knowledge exist, creating a skills network, and connecting the skills network to the engineers and production workforce in the field. Here’s the path to start:

  1. Inventory Talent: Know what you already have and know what you need. Talent exists inside the vast array of oil and gas service, manufacturing, production, consulting, and transportation companies as well as independent contractors and retirees. The talent and experience are out there, but the challenge is identifying who has talent and classifying the type of expertise anyone can contribute.
  2. Build a Network: A mechanism to manage and connect the talent network needs to be established. The talent network could be across companies or within companies—it depends on your needs. A network will provide a means to build a skills database. Then, the right talent can be instantly accessible when people need help or have questions.
  3. Connect to the Field: The last step is connecting the skills network to the workforce facing day-to-day challenges in the field. The connection needs to be a simple, fast way for the field to request assistance without complex forms, lengthy searches, or waiting for hours.

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