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The Skills Risk

An item that keeps on coming up in everything from our risk survey last year to briefings with various folk around the industry is that there is a skills shortage.

People with skills and expertise are retiring and taking their knowledge with them at quite a pace. I suspect the reason for this might be a growing sense of weariness with the way the world is changing. I know that at my age, I feel this and it begins to weigh on me yet, the rate of change and understanding of where it all may be headed remain too compelling for me to hang my boots just yet. But, I can imagine that this is a factor along withe simple fact that if you count the commodities trading era as having really got going after FERC636 then those of us that were there to experience that are getting quite grey by now…

On the other side, younger people do not necessarily share the same values that prior generations had. Work from home is now a thing after the lockdowns and as I have written here in the past the concept of working from no fixed abode has caught on in places. The digital nomad is a thing. More than that, younger people tend to switch jobs more often especially if there is more money or a better challenge available. The idea of joining a corporation for life I think is long gone.

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So, the staffing issue is basically about both of these issues. But it is also about that expertise. The understanding of how things are done that many younger employees have yet to gain that is missing as well. This poses a risk to any business whether commodity-related firm or software vendor. You must have expertise and experience on board. Recruitment then becomes more important as does employee retention for without the right people, a business cannot survive.

As an industry, we probably need to do more to attract, recruit and train young people. But in parts of our industry, that is harder now than it was. Who wants a career in oil & gas if 10-years from now not only will you be a villain of some type but likely have no job, for example? How do you attract new talent into an industry that may not be around a few years from now? I’m not sure I have the answer to that one but it is a real risk in many areas of commodities where things are changing extremely fast.

What are your thoughts? Do let us know.