Automation, data analytics, the Internet of Things—you name it, the oil industry wants it. In the new post-crisis, efficiency-driven industry the adoption of digital technology has really flourished, and, as so often happens, now this fast-growing adoption is creating a shortage; a talent shortage, for a change.
Oil companies are increasingly relying on things like cloud computing and Internet of Things to stay ahead of the competition. This means they need more and more software engineers to keep the whole thing going, writes energy industry analyst Mark Venables in a story for Forbes.
Because of the nature of the oil and gas business, the rush to adopt cloud solutions, IoT connectedness, and machine learning is understandable. Managing hundreds of wells across hundreds of acres, monitoring well flows and predicting well performance are just a few examples of how instrumental digital technology has become for the fossil fuels industry. It saves money, it boosts efficiency, and it makes work in the field and on the platforms safer.
Yet all this monitoring, managing, and predicting require human talent. Software engineering talent, to be precise. The more sensors you have, the more devices you connect to an IoT network, the more data you generate. This data then needs to be analyzed to be of any use. Since artificial intelligence capable of doing this is yet to come, human talent is essential.
Venables quotes Huw Rothwell from oil and gas recruitment firm Petroplan as saying there is growing demand for people with the knowledge and expertise in software engineering for the energy industry. Satisfying this demand will likely become a challenge as the talent shortage in energy is only part of a wider talent shortage in a world bent on becoming as connected as possible. Related: This Is How Much U.S. Households Lose As Gas Prices Rise
The engineering shortage is not new: a 2017 white paper from Experis Engineering noted engineering positions have been among the hardest to fill in the United States for nine years in a row. Globally, engineering positions are the fourth-hardest to fill. Now zoom in on software engineers, who are bound to be at the top of list of engineers most in demand.
What makes the shortage problem worse is that, as is the case with pretty much any other talent, it’s not so much about quantity as it is about quality. The oil and gas industry needs quality software engineering talent and it needs it fast. Recent Forrester research suggests that companies that have been slow in attracting the right engineering talent risk having to pay up to 20 percent above-market salaries. This would only add to a swelling bill for E&Ps as oilfield service providers are also raising their rates amid improving market conditions.
The Experis report identified five key challenges companies needing to hire engineers encounter. These include lack of experience as number one, lack of hard job and technical skills, too-high salary demands, lack of soft skills, and lack of formal engineering educations. Each of these is tough enough on its own. Taken together, they suggest the talent shortage problem will only become worse in the future.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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