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Lower for Longer, is the Oil & Gas Industry
Heading for Skills Gap Crisis?

March 5, 2017 By John Smart

It is common headlines over the 5 years or more that we have seen record lows in oil price, which has seriously impacted the oil industry forcing a reduction in the workforce, as well as overall investment.  This downturn has effected the labour market providing a greater supply of personnel on the open international market.

However, it has to be remembered that this glut in available personnel (quantity) does not always mean quality.  Even with the downturn in the market price, which taking into account the economic cycle of boom and bust, the laws of economics dictate that it will eventually lead into an upturn  – and ‘business as usual’.

In light of this, it should not be underestimated that the oil and gas industry faces a shortage of talent now, as well in the future, that threatens its ability to meet the world’s demand for extraction and production, as well as maintaining any sustainable growth.  It has never been more important in the industry to identify and retain talented people to ensure competitive advantage, sustainability, as well as survive any economic storms that may arise.

Talent Management isn’t yet mature enough to have a defined tried and tested time-line like Management or Leadership of great gurus/ thinkers or models, e.g. from Fayol in the early 1900s, Taylor, Mayo, through to Peters and Drucker et al.  The study of Leadership and Management has been on-going for over 100 years’ with each decade providing rich sources of debate and fields of study.  Talent Management is at its early embryonic state and while a simple context, still has differing ideas and models in it’s approach.

So what do we  mean by the phrase ‘Talent Management’?  The starting definition was through research by Steven Hankin, of the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, Inc., in 1997; he devised the phrase ‘war for talent’ in his work, (and with a subsequent book by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod, of the same name).  The study, which was conducted during the high tech boom times of the late 1990s, implied that demand for talented employees exceeded the available supply, thus leading to the problem of talent shortage.  As a consequence of this, the phrases ‘‘talent acquisition’, ‘retention and management’’ and ‘attracting, retaining, and developing talent’ became popular among the HR community.

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