Retirement parties seem to be more common than new hire luncheons in the oil and gas sector as the industry evolves through what it calls the Great Crew Change – the retirement of thousands of mature, highly experienced and knowledgeable workers.

Companies go to great lengths to bridge the talent gap by hiring younger workers, veterans, and folks outside the industry. Baker Hughes, the oilfield services company, runs a mentoring program for young engineers, while ExxonMobil has spent $2.6 million on workforce training initiatives in the Gulf Coast over the last decade.

But how do companies prevent a retiree’s asset and project knowledge from also walking out the door?

Smart companies are investing in cloud-based technologies such as FutureOn®’s FieldAP™ and FieldTwin™ to capture and maintain asset data in one place, breaking up the traditionally siloed data streams that only a handful of engineers might access. These technologies offer real-time data from design concept to decommissioning, and the data is accessible to anyone in the world with permissions, indefinitely. The platform never plans for retirement, taking all the asset knowledge with it.

Smarter use of talent

Digitization not only helps preserve that knowledge but also makes better use of its stretched engineering talent as a result of tighter operating budgets and lack of experienced talent for hire. The smartest and most future-focused, long-term-profit-driven companies implement digitalization strategies to drive higher and better thinking from their engineering talent while meeting the business imperative of providing value to bring in revenue.

“Everybody that’s going through the process of downsizing their business right now is faced with this extra complication (looming retirements),” said Bob Sullivan, a management consultant for New York-based AlixPartners, at a 2018 industry roundtable. “Decisions that get made right now on how you right-size the company are going to have a huge impact when the market turns.”

Upskill talent

Studies show digitalization can also help boost engineer satisfaction and improve retention rates because workers are more eager to upskill into the new roles created through digitalization, according to Stephanie Rogers, managing director at Accenture. “We have conducted research which shows that workers are very interested in developing new skills to have greater digital capabilities,” she explained at a 2018 industry roundtable. “Where companies aren’t offering training opportunities, workers are taking the initiative to go out and find the education themselves.” That could include finding new jobs with employers embracing the digital era of energy.

As we navigate through the Great Crew Change, digitalization will propel the industry forward by capturing knowledge before it retires, support talent in their current and future roles and provide company recruiters with an additional lure.

Contact FutureOn today to preserve asset knowledge and make better use of your talent acquisition and retention strategy.