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Business management

TRAINING Key to attracting talent

Judith Luberski, Vice President Upstream Talent and Learning, BP, outlines the changing approach to learning and development across the oil and gas sector. in capability building, opening


‘Whilst the focus has often been around talent attraction, retaining and maximising the capabilities of the existing workforce is paramount.’

Judith Luberski, VP Upstream Talent and Learning, BP

lobal energy growth is expected to be dominated by emerging economies over the next 20 years, with primary energy use growing by nearly 40%.* As a result, the E&P sector will be tasked with accessing hydrocarbons in new and ever more challenging frontiers. These challenges will require increased skills, capabilities and technologies across the world. Meeting them starts with a disciplined, methodical and long-term learning and development plan. Whilst the focus has often been around talent attraction, retaining and maximising the capabilities of the existing workforce is paramount. Building capability is not simply about training new talent at the beginning of their employment – it is necessary to continuously develop the operational capability of employees throughout their careers. Consequently, different types of learning are required. A blend of formal classroom training, experiential learning and purposeful mentoring ensures that employees at all levels of experience receive the most appropriate development. Simulation and mobile technology will increasingly add flexibility to how employees learn and demonstrate competence.

Standardised approach Within multinational organisations, a standardised approach to learning and development helps to ensure staff from all areas worldwide have access to consistent training and career development programmes. To facilitate this at BP, we have invested heavily

38 Petroleum Review | October 2014

a second Upstream Learning Centre in Sunbury as part of our commitment to encouraging and accelerating learning. This is the second centre after Houston, US. Technology is central to the offering and strengthens access to learning in the Eastern Hemisphere via distance learning technology, at the same time enhancing the upstream curriculum with purpose-built well control training simulators. One aspect of learning that is becoming more prominent is the use of immersive and experiential training. Replicating the complex methods and procedures used aboard drilling rigs, refineries and on production platforms improves learner engagement and creates a more realistic learning environment. There is also an increased focus on on-the-job learning. Shortening time to autonomy is important for all oil companies. This type of learning ensures a high-degree of

competence and improves original, technical decision making.

Mentoring role

Whilst monetary investment in employee learning and development is critical, formal programmes alone are not sufficient for success. Indeed, in some corporate cultures formal learning can become a ‘tick-the- box exercise’. Informal learning, the passing on of knowledge to emerging talent, and fostering a collaborative culture is of equal importance. There is a need to ‘develop’ as well as formally ‘train’ our employees and this can only be achieved through focused mentoring programmes. In some countries, national oil companies (NOCs) have an active engagement in this process. For example, major oil companies have historically partnered with in-country universities to work

together to create curriculae that equip students with the knowledge, technology and expat expertise required for today’s industry. We should seek closer collaboration with universities to support focused, regional learning and development programmes. Broad collaboration with governments, resource holders and universities not only stimulates the local economy, but also demonstrates a commitment to the areas in which we operate.

Competitive advantage Nurturing talent and having an engaged workforce goes right to the heart of our industry’s competitive advantage as we compete for talent. Maintaining the talent pipeline is particularly important today as the energy industry faces an impending shortage of, and increased competition for, many of its professional disciplines. To compete with other market participants, the industry must respond to the learning and development demands of its employees.

We must either adapt to these new requirements or employees will seek alternatives – perhaps even choosing a career outside the oil and gas industry.

The challenge for the industry is to position E&P as the ‘employer of choice’, by building up capability in both established and emerging regions. This will increase diversity and create exciting and fulfilling long-term career paths built on life-long learning and career development. Applying a long- term approach to employee development will help ensure the integrity of the pipeline of competencies, skills and performance needed for the industry not just to survive but to thrive. ●

*BP Energy Outlook 2035

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