While many sectors play a pivotal role in everyday life, few are as influential and important as oil and gas. Essential to countries and economies around the world, the oil and gas sector provides primary fuel sources for people, businesses, infrastructure, and industries. However, the energy industry today is facing a talent gap issue that is exacerbating and requires urgent, yet viable sustainable solutions.
Issues Igniting the Talent Gap Challenge
Unprecedented digital transformation, and heightened demands for innovative practices and processes, is a formula placing industry incumbents under tremendous strain. The unrelenting pace of digitalization is often proving too much for companies and their personnel to keep pace with due to substandard or outdated education and training.
The existing oil and gas workforce is also an aging one. Many are on the threshold of retirement without the necessary measures in place to pass on their knowledge, expertise, and experience, while the competitive nature of today’s wider employment spectrum means attracting and retaining talent has never been more challenging.
Furthermore, a long-term lack of investment in energy sector talent is an unintentional oversight now proving increasingly detrimental, especially where millennials are concerned. The oil and gas industry is not presently viewed as professionally desirable because many cite related jobs – however unfairly or inaccurately – as dirty, difficult, potentially dangerous, or environmentally unfriendly, despite widespread decarbonization and stringent health, safety, and environment (HSE) regulations.
Considering these factors, bridging the oil and gas talent gap is an essential measure rather than an optional exploratory operation – and the full potential of the workforce’s next generation can be unlocked with help from a unique, capable, and largely untapped resource: women.
Women In Oil and Gas: Industry Outlook
According to the World Petroleum Council, only 20% of the world’s oil and gas workforce is female, while a joint study conducted between the Council and Boston Consulting Group found female representation stands at 15% in upstream exploration and is lowest in oilfield services with only 4%. Crucially, these figures are relevant to the Middle East, where female oil and gas participation remains low yet opportunistic.
With the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman among the countries heavily involved in industry related exploration and production, the Middle East has long been considered the world’s leading oil and gas region. For example, Middle Eastern oil production amounted to approximately 28.2 million barrels per day in 2021 alone, and the region controls one-third of total global oil production.
Given such illustrations of the region’s market size and status, securing an extensive talent pool in the years and decades ahead is paramount – and women can undoubtedly play a crucial part in the industry’s future on the regional stage.
It is important to note that at present, the oil economies of the Gulf states have an average female labor force participation rate of 22% and women also represent less than 15% of energy sector jobs in various countries across the wider region. But in due course, such figures are sure to increase with support from the oil and gas industry, providing the full potential of female workforce contributions is recognized.
Essential Next Steps for Oil and Gas Players
With digital transformation acceleration, and the pressing need to onboard talent proficient in advanced analytics, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and other emerging technologies, women can help fill the industry’s talent gap. From technicians to supervisors, engineers to managers, a host of diverse roles are fast becoming available in line with technological change. Companies can onboard women by presenting them with compelling offers, including upskilling training programs, competitive salaries, professional development assurances, and other female-oriented initiatives.
Already, many oil and gas players are making tremendous progress in laying the foundations for women to enjoy long, successful careers by furthering their diversity and inclusion agendas. Yet by investing in engineering, mathematics, and science programs for women, while regularly presenting them with apprenticeships, mentoring, and training and sponsorships programs, higher numbers of women will be encouraged to pursue oil and gas sector careers, thus filling the talent gap.
Women also boast unique characteristic traits sure to be invaluable across the industry, something which is rewarded, celebrated, and recognized across platforms, including the prestigious ADIPEC Awards, on an annual basis.
Among these characteristics, women are agile multitaskers, meticulous and dedicated, have insightful viewpoints, and possess robust stability, decision making, and risk management capabilities. Therefore, opportunities within senior management will also fill the talent gap, as well as increase retainability rates and boost creativity, problem solving, sustainability, and performance advancements.
By opening professional avenues and opportunities for women through new, proactive approaches, the oil and gas industry will, in turn, facilitate women in filling the existing and widening talent gap.
A direct result will be companies and the wider industry becoming future-proof, capable of adapting to change, overcoming challenges, and welcoming newfound operational productivity, performance, and sustainability.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.