Gurgaon, India (PressExposure) July 14, 2009 -- The Oil & Gas industry remains one of the most resilient sectors in Southeast Asia and has weathered the global economic crisis fairly well so far. At in-depth panel discussions held earlier this month in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, industry experts gathered to discuss the development of human capability in this industry. Participants reported that while investments were being deferred due to the current economic cycle, they expect them to be reinstated soon as oil prices stabilize. But in order to take advantage of those investments it was felt that more would need to be done to develop human capabilities in the industry in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The âTalent Crunchâ: Quantity and Quality
GlobalEnergyTalent, which convened the panel discussions together with Bo Le Associates, estimate that there will be a 40% global shortage of key engineers & scientists in the energy industry by 2010 and it will take up to 7 years to train and deploy replacements. This gap is in part due to the flight of energy talent to other industries during the oil crunch in the 1980s and 90s which was not replenished adequately.
The panel discussion highlighted that the current issue is now more on quality (skills and attitude of employees) rather than quantity (number of employees). The industry, particularly the upstream sector, requires more experienced professionals because of the more complex nature of exploration today. While panelists debated whether experience can really be taught in the classroom, it was felt that there was a need for fresher approaches to rapid knowledge transfer to younger cohorts including interdisciplinary training, decision sciences and multi-track career planning.
Local talent issues: Reversing the brain drain while maintaining global agility
In addition to the overall talent crunch that besieges the industry worldwide, O&G companies face specific local issues in Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesia, panelists noted a âgeneration gapâ and a âglass ceilingâ among local professionals. When there is a perceived lack of upward mobility in organizations, professionals often migrate to other regions particularly the Middle East.
The panel noted how this was symptomatic of a core issue facing O&G companies locally â that of a mismatch between geographic regions where hydrocarbon resources and human talent are abundant. The latter will always follow the former, the panel said, more so in this highly globalized industry. The question is how can the industry in Malaysia & Indonesia manage this development? Some panelists felt that this global movement helps transfer technology and skills across borders, hence advocated for hiring organizations to lift the ban on rehiring old employees. Others felt that setting up alumni networks would allow potential retirees to give a better window into opportunities in the home country. Participants unanimously felt the need for closer ties with educational institutes to fill the talent gap.
Building for the future: How to brand Oil & Gas to the next generation?
In order to draw more smart workers to the oil & gas industry, companies have to dispel unfavorable perceptions among young professionals and students. Panelists opined that highlighting the technological advances in the industry would draw the intellectually curious. The strong cultural aspects of the industry, particularly the bond among workers across cultures and geographies that last a lifetime, could be a draw for the âconnected generationâ. More importantly it was felt that what workers were demanding most today is honesty from its employers- which has implications on how companies hire, train, manage and grow employees. After the panel discussions, participants left with a greater appreciation of the nuances of human capital management in this sector, and looked forward to more such meetings that can allow closer industry cooperation.