New talent for a new era: future-proofing the energy industry

Kyle Pitman Drift Offshore

DRIFT Offshore’s Americas President, Kyle Pitman, shares his insights on how attracting new talent is key to future-proofing our industry with qualified personnel for a safe energy transition.

As the global energy industry undergoes fundamental change, likewise the factors that shape its workforce profile are evolving.

They are creating conditions which could see the skills gap widening – at a time when having the right people in the right positions, with the right skills, is vital for a safe and successful energy transition.

So I was delighted to have the opportunity to address this key topic when I participated in the OGV Business Breakfast at OTC 2024.

The theme of the breakfast this year was Leadership in a new energy era, and it was great to be part of a panel which explored the theme in various ways.

For my part, I felt I could best contribute by sharing insights – from the perspective of a business supporting the subsea sector – on how attracting new talent is key to future-proofing our industry with qualified personnel.

Bringing young people into an industry with an ageing workforce is imperative if we are to bridge the skills gap in the long term.

There is one essential reality here: oil & gas is no longer an attractive career option for many young people, and indeed some of those who train for it are not remaining in the industry.

The oil & gas sector has done a huge amount of work to move beyond its old reputation as a ‘dirty’ industry, but that perception lingers. Here in the UK it has moved from ‘hero’ to ‘villain’ status in relatively short order – despite its essential role in the transition – and that has undermined its efforts to recruit young people.

The problem is less acute in the USA, but there still remains a shortage of young talent in oil & gas as high schools and colleges are no longer promoting its opportunities to any great extent.

So, against this backdrop, what is the solution – how do we market our industry to young people?

The answer in part lies in providing cost-effective training that creates the required pool of skills for the long term. Competent and skilled individuals are essential for the delivery of safe and successful offshore projects, and we need a holistic approach to develop them.

We advocate a development model in which individuals – from new-starts to experienced personnel – are supported to map out their careers; to formulate a plan to equip them with the skills and hands-on experience they will need for the future.

The energy transition presents many opportunities for the subsea industry, but those can only be fully exploited with the right workforce in place. A focused training framework and a demonstration of sustained support for individuals to pursue their career ambitions are key in meeting that objective – not least in terms of bringing new talent on board for the long term.

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