OTC 2017: Investing in the next generation is key to innovation

3rd May 2017

As the industry accepts that $50/bbl oil is here to stay, our efforts turn to delivering technology solutions that are both effective and affordable.

 

A range of innovations have been showcased at OTC, from a FPSO turret mooring system to an electric downhole safety valve.

 

However, results from the recent P&J “new world order’ survey highlighted that nearly a third of businesses feel that cost cuts haven’t gone far enough yet – with nearly 90% expecting further cuts this year. While this isn’t altogether surprising, what is concerning is the continuing downward trend in graduate recruitment.

 

Only 42% of companies have recruited graduates or apprentices this year, while at the opposite end of the scale, we are losing some of our most experienced industry experts. We are once again walking in to a skills gap at the very time we need the brightest minds to support a changing era in our industry.

 

Energy veteran, Jimmy Milne from Balmoral Group, offered his usual frank opinion on this during the panel discussion. Other than suggesting we ‘bang a few heads together’ (I couldn’t agree more!), he stressed the importance of continuing to recruit and empower our youngest minds to deliver new innovations. There’s no point in them leaving their ‘brains at the gate’, we need to work smarter and fresh talent is a key contributor to this.

 

Tomorrow is OTC’s education day, where we once again open the doors to students looking for an exciting new career – the talented next generation of technical and commercial experts. I for one will be following this with great interest, particularly their perception of our industry and if it still offers the same exciting prospects I saw at their age.

 

I joined the industry in the late 1990s, just after a similar downturn – although nowhere near as bad. While I didn’t have any negative perceptions of the industry, this was largely because my father had a very full and successful 40+ year career in the industry. Other young people haven’t necessarily experienced that and instead, are making long term career decisions on an industry coming out of one of its toughest times. If you were in their shoes, would you still choose to join?

 

It is important that, individually and collectively, we take responsibility and don’t make our mistakes of the past. If we know it’s cyclical and we will only exacerbate the problem in another three years, then don’t make the mistake. As the saying goes…a mistake is only a mistake if you don't learn from it.

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