Online Learning and its role in solving the skills gap in the Oil & Gas Industry
4 min 30 sec reading time

In many sectors continuous schooling of employees has become a key characteristic for competitiveness of organizations. This seems to become more important as technology and knowledge are advancing at an ever-faster rate. Engineering disciplines in the Oil & Gas Industry are no exception.  The Corona pandemic has accelerated the need of good online education instead of classroom ones. 

However, the complexity of some of the particular subjects which engineers have to face on a daily basis, lead them to discover new ways to continue their professional formation. On this journey, engineers and oil & gas professionals have found that online courses and online training are an incredibly efficient and affordable resource that counts with the same integral value they can find on a traditional on-site course approach, as long as the format is right. 

For this article, we have reviewed some of the most relevant aspects about online engineering training and oil & gas professional training courses and why you should consider complementing your education with access to an online learning platform for yourself or your engineering team.

Bringing down prejudices

Some people might find online training a difficult matter to grasp, due to the apparent flexibility of hours that you don’t really get when you attend a traditional school. This way of thinking can be especially present in the Engineering and the Oil & Gas Sector, where there is this feeling that you need to attend to a physical place where you meet with this figure of knowledge and authority that guides you as a student.

If you think online training is something that is discovered in recent times, think again. According to a paper written in 2014: International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning from the MIT, it was found that online training can be as effective as taking a traditional course, regardless of how much previous knowledge and preparation you have as a professional. The intensity of the course, the curriculum and the level of engagement in any online training program can compete with any other classroom course in the market as long as the format is right. In many sectors, like IT, Cyber Security, Supply Chain Management or Finances, online training and blended learning have become the new norm.

For these reasons, many engineers are starting to opt to continue their education with online resources, having proven and concrete results, leaving them skilled on essential competencies they will need in order to properly respond to the developments the industry demands on a daily basis.

The role of the employer

Many employers from industrial sectors are starting to have a better understanding about the benefits of investing in employee education. Studies have shown an increased rate of employee retention and corporate loyalty of up to 85%, guaranteeing the concrete use of these new acquired skills from the professional, applied directly on the growth and competitiveness of the firm. 

The cost of opportunity involved when investing in online education for engineers and oil & gas professionals depends primarily on how the vision of high management is positioned and how they see their own evolution as a business:

  • A reactive firm is featured by its constant need of having to take inefficient and desperate measures, having to perform improvised actions every time with the purpose to survive in its own industry and, in several cases, failing in the process.

  • On the other hand, a proactive firm invests in long-term results, acknowledging that the industry is constantly evolving. The benefits of having qualified professionals skilled on the requirements that the sector will demand in the future might represent the most critical point in terms of the survival of a firm, understanding the heavily competitive environment of engineering sectors in the Oil & Gas industry.

Amongst the benefits most engineers and professional value the most when accessing to online education we can find:

  • Students have the possibility to have a better balance between work, family and study hours.

  • The practical uses of the skills obtained through online training are employed in concrete areas of the firm as more custom curricula can be reached.

  • The capital investment is relatively low when taking online courses, making them easier to be presented and funded by the organization.

  • Online training requires less time in comparison with having to attend a physical training location with fixed schedules.

  • Access to a much larger curricula can be obtained through online platforms as these serve a global market easily accessible online.

The Culture of Education

Nowadays, it is starting to be a common denominator for organizations of any sector to require continuous development of their workforce. This trend is called the “Culture of Education” and “Lifetime Learning”. An industrial firm with this kind of approach is eager to reward the individual's will to continue his/her education on the engineering fields that are adding concrete value to the organization and such learning is interpreted as a primary business process. As stated before, the role of the employers needs to go alongside capital investment, respecting the hours spent on learning and having a constant follow-up with the employee in order to keep on track the very purpose of this investment. 

In the light of this landscape, online training and digital courses are increasingly becoming a common ally for Engineering and Oil & Gas firms, particularly when the main goal is to adopt the Culture of Education inside the organization. 

The Skills Gap

We have to face a critical fact: according to numerous sources, many engineering disciplines and the Oil & Gas industry in general are currently facing a deep labor shortages and skills gap. Although many believe this deficiency will be eventually fixed thanks to the contribution of what is called the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Digital Transformation (implying the use of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Automation and Machine Learning performing industrial tasks), it is evident that in the Industrial, transformation and energy sector there are some things that can’t be automated. At this point, it is important to remark that the low entry rates of skilled professionals will not be solved easily. Here resides the need of having more skilled and formed professionals, since this skills gap will begin to be increasingly noticed in the years to come. If we want to have a better preparation towards the challenges ahead, the demand of innovation that coming with technology and new information tools, continuing our training with a “lifetime learning” approach start to make a lot more sense, and team wide access to good online courses is an important, fast and affordable way to reach this objective.

EngineeringTrainer
20 September, 2021
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