Should energy companies prioritise tech and AI over training and development?

September 11, 2022

Engineer working on programming problem while sat at desk

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The energy sector is in a time of great transformation. With the rise of renewables and the energy transition, companies are looking for new ways to stay ahead of the curve. One way to do this is to invest in technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

The 2022 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report found that many energy companies are prioritising tech and AI investment over the training and development of their current employees.

The report found that a major technical skills shortage means that many companies are turning to automation over recruitment or talent development. It states that power, petrochemicals, oil and gas and renewables companies are now more likely to adapt to a changing energy landscape through automation and AI than by mentoring existing employees or even recruiting from outside the organisation.

Is choosing tech over training and development the right move? Read on to find out.

AI in the energy industry 

The importance of AI in the energy industry cannot be understated. Energy companies are turning to AI for various tasks, from optimising energy use to predicting equipment failures. AI can help energy companies reduce costs, improve efficiency and make better decisions. For these reasons, it is no surprise that energy companies are prioritising tech and AI recruitment.

How is AI used in the energy industry?

Energy demand forecasting

There are many ways in which energy companies are using AI. One example is energy demand forecasting, where AI can be used to predict how much energy will be needed in the future and when demand will peak. This information can help energy companies optimise their energy use and avoid costly over-production. Other examples include predictive maintenance (using AI to identify when equipment is likely to fail), and automated customer service (using AI to provide rapid and accurate responses to customer queries).

As a measurement tool for greenhouse gas emissions 

AI is also being used to measure greenhouse gas emissions through the use of drones. According to AI Magazine, the Innovation Fund project ReDoCO2 developed a tool to determine which peatland soils can provide the most significant climate gain with lower greenhouse gas emissions. The tool can be used as a means to reduce greenhouse gases while simultaneously aiding the green transition of agriculture.

To detect potential threats 

Another vital function of AI in the energy sector is that it is being used to detect faults before they contribute to energy failures. Equipment failure is a common and costly concern for energy companies worldwide. However, thanks to AI tools such as companies can now create maintenance schedules by analysing data from sensors that monitor equipment. Predictive analytics can also help detect faults ahead of failures, therefore saving companies a significant amount of money and making energy production more efficient and reliable at the same time.

To increase safety and security

Finally, AI-powered tools can also increase workplace safety. For example, self-driving machines take away the human risks associated with tasks such as surveying high voltage power lines, meaning that employees do not have to work in dangerous conditions. For example, ExxonMobil has partnered with the MIT Energy Initiative to develop autonomous robot capabilities, investing in tech that will increase the AI tools' ability to conduct complex operations.


The importance of training and development for energy professionals

Female employee training male colleague

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There are many advantages of using AI and automation in the energy industry. However, it is important to note that these technologies require both internal and external skills. For example, energy companies will need staff trained in data analysis and interpretation and those with the technical skills to maintain and operate these technologies.

Therefore, energy companies should focus on investing in tech and AI and the training and development of their current employees. By doing so, they can ensure that they have the necessary skills to take advantage of these new technologies and grow their business in the future.


How to train your employees in AI and automation

As energy companies move towards implementing more AI and automation into their business, they must invest in their employees' training and development. After all, these technologies can only be as successful as those operating them.

During training, ensure your employees feel comfortable with the new technology, and use the introduction of new tools as a learning opportunity for you and your team. It's a good idea to schedule a specific amount of time during the working week to provide comprehensive training for your employees.

However, it's important to note that AI is complicated, and training in the area can be complex. With that in mind, it might be best to begin on a fairly basic level. According to Wilson Pang, the Chief Technology Officer at Appen, a statistics course is an excellent place to start. Speaking with Forbes, he said that this will help workers understand how to interpret and make sense of data, and equip the company to make data-driven decisions.


Learn more about this year's recruitment trends in the energy industry

AI and automation are just one area of focus for employees and hiring managers this year. To learn more and top recruitment insights from specific sectors of the energy industry, download the 2022 GETI report.

Download the 2022 GETI report

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This post was written by: Ashley Samuelson, Business Development Director