The State of the Training in the Oil and Gas Industry
The Oil and Gas industry is dynamic, global, interconnected and core to our lives today. It’s also an industry that is in constant evolution for more safe, more cost effective, environmentally friendly and efficient operations. Technology has played a crucial part in how the industry has developed. It has changed the way we live, the way we work and certainly the way we learn. Sadly, not all training mechanisms and training strategies have kept up with the new ways in which oil and gas professionals share what they know or learn what they don’t.
While some oil and gas training leaders are “old school” and resist to implement more modern practices in their organizations, much of this lack of modernization, is thanks to the big Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are implemented into large corporations and feed off the very inefficiencies that they create.
This costs the oil and gas industry much more than the “per-seat” cost. The lack of practices to allow for scalable, faster and consistent dissemination of Oil and Gas knowledge throughout projects and companies and ultimately within the industry, promotes silos of communication and knowledge, slows down innovation adoption, limits professional development and motivation, and costs the oil and gas industry billions of dollars in loss of productivity, increase in accidents and fines, and loss of smart professionals who end up going to other industries.
Oil and Gas Training of Yesterday
Examples of inefficient knowledge sharing practices that I have recently seen, include capturing lessons learned or pre-retirement questionnaire on paper (YES, ON PAPER!). And while the lessons learned were turned into PDFs with tags (a lot of work and still outdated), the retirement questionnaires were filed in a cubby hole to never see the light of day again. These were major operators by the way! Another crazy one, in the midst of a major downturn, was the request to turn a perfectly well produced and tested e-learning course, into a 5-day in-classroom presentation to be done in 8 locations around the world, 4 of the locations had 1 to 3 users each. Even a live-virtual online presentation was not good enough for them. And this was not a hands-on type of course. It was a presenter and slide setup. What about another large service company, that actually started doing a great program at least on paper, by creating a knowledge-exchange program within the company, however the execution was less than impressive. When we were brought in to help fix the program, the training manager who created the program could not find the folder with the videos within their intranet! click click click, hmm not here, where was it again? Oh maybe here…click, click, click, click hmmm nope. After about 2 hours asking around we found it deep in the pages forgotten by him and the staff (sounds familiar?). Not to mention the countless times training managers and users have confided to me their frustrations with broken Learning Management Systems that they are stuck with for a numbers of years and it’s just how it is.
I describe these not to bash on any one company or the oil and gas industry. It’s just disheartening to see organizations with poor management of their biggest asset, their people. The industry is complex and interconnected, with ever increasing regulations and technology, so it only makes sense that oil and gas training should be the back bone of the industry. So we know that they have no chance of competing in volatile environment to keep projects afloat, jobs, and against those companies that are caught up with times, that are well on their way to a more agile and lean operations while maintaining professional development and staff motivation in their radar. Even for multi-billion capital projects, these luxuries can not be afforded because we know that these are not one offs, this is a common practice and a “way of life” for these companies. It’s the old-school mentality that it’s how things were done in the 80’s and 90’s. These are simply non-scalable, inconsistent, and created a lot of unnecessary costs. Plus these are the reason why oil and gas training is often the first thing removed during cost cutting measures in the oil and gas industry.
It’s not that capturing lessons learned, retirement or project closing questionnaires, or in-classroom training don’t have a place in today’s workplace, but it’s either how they are being conducted or the lack of flexibility to adapt to a new way of life that utilizes of the amazing technology that we have in our hands so the efforts
Oil and Gas Training of the Future
Luckily, more and more often we see clients reaching out for help with upgrading their training strategies and systems. It often comes wrapped in the question for cost reduction of their training programs. Regardless of how it comes, it’s always good to have the openness for change and optimization, before the drastic cutting of training funds and loss of knowledge available within their very walls. Little by little, we are able to assess existing assets and resources and design a roadmap to bring them up to speed. From knowledge harvesting, production of e-learning or blended training courses, implementation of mobile friendly systems that allow for oil and gas training when and where professionals are, with content that is relevant for their tasks at hand and their personal interests, and the start of a knowledge sharing culture.
Oil and Gas Training for Your Organization
So, I invite leaders and training professionals who are stuck in their old ways to re-think how you can capture knowledge from your professionals and how you help them develop in a scalable manner, in a way that professional development becomes part of their day-to-day lives and not a one off training event that just checks a box.
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