The oil and gas industry has long been male-dominated around the world. While things have improved in terms of the recognized capabilities of women, a gender gap continues to plague the oil and gas industry. There are several factors responsible for it, including gender stereotypes. The skills gap is another definite issue. Let’s talk more about the skills gap in the oil and gas sector, and how women can begin to close it.
What is a skills gap?
A skills gap refers to the difference between the skills necessary for a job and the skills that employees actually have. In the case of the oil and gas industry, there is a gap, and that can put businesses at risk. Next, let’s discuss why the skills don’t align.
The reasons behind the oil and gas skills gap
According to a recent report published by Digital Oil and Gas Solutions, rapid digitization and the failure to provide the requisite education and training is the primary cause of a skills gap in the industry. In fact, some 41.3% of respondents believe that this is the primary reason for the lack of skills. A further 24.3% have suggested that this is the result of inadequate succession planning over time.
The changing nature of the workforce is also considered to be a factor, both in terms of an aging selection of employees and the impact that increasingly strict immigration rules have had on minimizing access to global talent. Remember, the reason for increasing immigration quotas in the first place was an aging workforce, but at the moment, there’s a dearth of talent among all genders waiting to fill the void.
Appraising the lack of new talent – Is technical training the key?
While all of these factors are telling in one way or another, the combination of rapid digital transformation and a lack of new, young talent is wreaking havoc on oil and gas in the UK and elsewhere.
While the use of artificial intelligence, automation, and big data can streamline the industry and its output markedly over time, it means little unless the next-generation workforce is adequately trained in these technologies and able to play a meaningful role in the market’s future growth. Remember, 42% of the oil and gas companies in Europe have already reported that the skills crisis is here and present, and there’s no doubt that sustained education and training will play a critical role here.
How can women fill the oil and gas sector skills gap?
Of course, the need for flexible and advanced training creates an opportunity for women. However, this demographic continues to face challenges regarding safety, appeal, and the fundamental issues of work-life balance. At the same time, oil and gas came last in women’s participation when compared to 18 other industries, including alternative science, tech, and engineering-based sectors.
To overcome this, some small steps are required to provide women with a foothold in this industry. On a practical level, for example, it may be time to invest in the supply of more diverse PPE equipment, to provide the exact health and safety challenges facing workers while simultaneously optimizing comfort.
Employers also need to incentivize and attract talented women, particularly in terms of offering training and ensuring that individuals can work flexibly where possible for optimal work-life balance.
A few last words
With these impactful incremental steps, it’s possible to reimagine the future of oil and gas. All while plugging the existing skills gap with a higher proportion of women workers.