Drilling for data: How the energy industry’s adoption of new tech is creating a skills shortage

The rate of adoption of connected technologies across the oil and gas industry over the past decade or so has been astronomical.

Most companies in the energy sector now understand the benefits of a more connected workplace and have invested accordingly in digital transformation to help them grow their businesses.

Download The 2019 Global Energy Talent Index

Visit the GETI site to download the report

Some examples of the practices becoming mainstream in the oil and gas industry now include cloud connectivity and mobile access to applications and data; automation of repetitive tasks to free up more man-hours for value-add tasks; and collection of data on a range of metrics to improve management decision-making.

Better data in particular has allowed energy companies to improve the management of projects and reduce costs as they streamline their overall operations. It also helps workers monitor pump and drilling performance; allows machines better communication with each other for more successful and accurate extractions; can be used to reduce the chances of accidents, and more.

However, as a growing number of companies “drill for data”, this has in turn led to something of a skills shortage within the oil and gas industry.

According to the data we collected from 17,000 oil and gas workers for our 2019 Global Energy Talent Index report, there’s significant unmet demand among oil and gas companies to hire software engineers who know not only how to collect the right datasets, but also how to turn that information into long-term strategies that help boost business growth significantly.

Finding the best software engineers for your project

Take statistics we’ve collected from Europe for GETI, for instance. 42% of respondents there say the skills crisis has already arrived. The skills most in demand in the region, too, are essential for new digital projects: problem-solving skills were considered key by just under a third (30%) of hiring managers, while 25% are seeking those with strong leaderships skills. 11% want to improve their process management capabilities, with analysis (9%) and strategic planning (6%) also considered essential.

And this isn’t just a problem for oil and gas. Europe alone is going to need 346,000 more data scientists by 2020, according to IBM’s The Quant Crunch report, and 28% of all digital jobs by that point will require specialist data science skills.

Which is where the problem really lies. Digital transformation is now so important that there simply aren’t enough experts to go around. The need for data science specialists has grown so fast in such a short space of time that it’s becoming exponentially harder to fill roles, train new staff and build a workforce that both understands digital and the unique demands of the oil and gas industry.

The hiring managers and senior managers on whom this problem falls are going to have to look further afield than their existing talent pools and evolve with the times to find the absolute best software engineers for their needs. That could mean attracting workers from other sectors who may be open to a career change, or developing new networks designed to discover fresh software engineering talent.

If you and your team don’t have the time for this, then another option is working with a third-party recruitment supplier who already has access to those networks and will work to find the absolute best software engineers for your team within timeframes that work for you.

The Airswift Team, in partnership with Energy Jobline, compiled the GETI 2019 report, a definitive guide for workforce trends in the energy industry. Click below to download your copy today.

Download The 2019 Global Energy Talent Index

Visit the GETI site to download the report

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This post was written by Craig Slater, Director of Permanent Recruitment – Europe, Middle East & Africa at Airswift