European companies have known for over 500 years that one of the most effective ways to secure a future workforce is through a nationwide apprenticeship program. However, the U.S. has historically been very hesitant to adopt such a process. Time for a change? There are glimmers of hope that U.S. employers working with state agencies and community colleges are doing something about the shortage of professional labor in the oil and gas industry. Here is a quick look at what is happening on the vocational training front and what a hiring organization can do about developing its future workforce.
If after interviewing you think everything went well, is it not unsettling to have to wait for the offer when you know it should be coming? The University of Chicago has issued its latest survey of how many days it takes for an employer to hire an applicant. The number has increased, and there are fairly good reasons for it. But what do you do in the meantime? Here is some advice on how to stay positive and focused while waiting for your proverbial ship to come in.
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Apprenticeships - a very old solution to a modern problem
The oil and gas industry is hurting for people to fill a large number of open positions. And yet too often, we keep pushing a solution down the road. Rather than growing the workforce by strategic and informed means, companies tend to steal the talent from each other. This results in a number of problems:
What to do?
It may be hard to believe, but the solution can be found in the medieval trade, industry, and crafts of the European economies. During the later Middle Ages, artisans and craftsmen began to train their workforces by providing room and board and training in their trades for a number of years until the trainees were ready to pass tests and prove their capabilities of continuing the crafts of their masters. (Leonardo da Vinci was an apprentice living with the great Renaissance artist Andrea di Veroccio for nine years before he became the artistic icon as we know him today!)
Fast forwarding to today, European economies are exclusively based on the apprenticeship system throughout all the industries. Germany provides a perfect example of the dual education system. There, well over 50% of all young people under the age of 22 in a total workforce of approximately 42 million, have completed an apprenticeship for two or three years in professions from baker to IT technician by learning the profession on-site under the guidance of trained mentors coupled with vocational and technical schooling geared towards their crafts. Let me repeat that - over 50%! Together with universities, the apprenticeship programs of Germany are seen as the bedrock reason for the economic success of Germany after World War II.
If you care to, guess how many young people or more senior workers were re-trained in a new profession and obtained a vocational degree in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 52,000 participants graduated in 2013 from a structured apprenticeship program. That is a miniscule number (less than .0004%) for a workforce in the U.S. which totals approximately 158 million.
It is not from a lack of need for skilled labor that vocational training programs have not found wider usage in the U.S. There is a huge demand for trained individuals everywhere including the oil and gas industry. The reason why Germany is so far ahead in training its workforce lies in the fact that in this country the concept of structured learning is far more accepted and a natural part of its society. Apprenticeships are just one readily available element within the concept of a lifetime of learning. However, this is no place for a philosophical comparison, but rather an encouragement for industry to take the lead in the absence of a nationwide institution. The good news is that there are plenty or resources and examples of how it can get done.
In summary, rather than continuing to steal from the left pocket to fill the right, the proposition is to build the workforce through less conventional means. It would be better for the individual, industry, and the community.
following biographies are just a small sampling of the kind of talent
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Reservoir Engineer with a PhD in petroleum engineering and 12 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Experienced in reservoir simulation, reserves analysis, risk analysis, acquisition evaluation, reservoir modeling including EOR schemes for shale reservoirs and CO2 and WAG injection, depletion planning, economic evaluation, and feasibility studies. Geographic areas worked include the Gulf of Mexico, west Texas, north Africa, Russia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Software proficiency in ECLIPSE, Nexus, VIP, OFM, Petrel, Crystal Ball, PVTSim, and CMG. Ask for R1060.
Petroleum Engineer with a master's degree in petroleum engineering and 33 years of experience working for small- to mid-sized independents, a law firm, and a financial services company. Experienced in acquisition evaluation, production forecasting, reserve estimating, budget planning, economic evaluations, and reserve reporting. Geographic areas worked include Arkansas, Colorado, the Gulf coast, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. Software proficiency in RODSTAR, PowerTools, Fekete RTA, Rose, HPDI, Drilling Info, and PHDWin. Licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas. Ask for R202.
Production Engineer with a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering and 31 years of experience working for small-to-large independents, a major operator, and service companies. Experienced in nodal analysis, well log analysis, regulatory compliance, production optimization, workovers, completions, wireline operations, production operations management, and facilities design and construction. Geographic areas worked include Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Ask for P461.
Production Operations Engineer with a master's degree in petroleum engineering and 26 years of experience working for large and mid-sized independent E&P companies. Expert in well control operations, production optimization, recompletion, workover and coiled tubing operations. Experienced in production operations management, project development, strategic planning and acquisition strategies. Additionally experienced in field operations, facility design and enhancement, reservoir stimulation and field studies. Geographic areas worked include Gulf of Mexico, Texas Panhandle, South Texas, East Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Ask for PO180.
Technical Writer with a bachelor's degree in biomedical science and six years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Experienced in editing technical documents, departmental newsletters, professional journals, memos, and reports; providing metrics and metric reporting for design and drafting groups, providing writing and editing support for the development of work flow tracking software including writing help text, editing training materials, and reviewing and debugging training videos. Software proficiency in MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher; SharePoint, InfoPath, Visio, Teamcenter, and various Adobe products. Completed the Texas A&M University Writing Specialization Program. Ask for TW168.
Accountant with a bachelor's degree in accounting and 15 years of experience working for small independents. Experienced in joint interest billing, accounts payable, accruals and capital expenditures, billing decks, customer service, vendor negotiations, cash reconciliation, and audits. Software proficiency in Excalibur, OGSYS, WellView, BOLO, and Excel. Additionally experienced in a team lead role supervising the work of five accounts payable clerks. Ask for A1379.
Landman with a juris doctorate degree and 25 years of experience working for major and independent oil and gas companies and private law firms. Experienced in oil and gas abstracting, title work, lease negotiation, division orders, take-or-pay litigation, joint operating agreement litigation, pipeline litigation, construction and engineering, and maritime defense litigation involving oil and gas vessels, and production platforms. Geographic areas worked include the Gulf of Mexico shelf, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama Gulf coast, south Louisiana, and south and east Texas. Software proficiency in Tobin Land System. Licensed to practice law in the State of Texas and the State of Louisiana. Ask for L644.
Petroleum Engineer with a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering and approximately one year of experience working for an independent energy company. Experienced in reserves analysis, offset studies, completions, polymer floods, AFE writing, rod design, water floods, recompletions, decline curve analysis, cross section creation, and economic analysis. Geographic areas worked include Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Software experience in ARIES, SROD, SMT Kingdom, CMG, IHS, Enerdeq, and GeoGraphix Ask for TE606.
Engineering Technician with six years of experience working for a large operator. Experienced in data management, quality control, spreadsheet creation and maintenance, database maintenance, production plotting, scorecard creation, presentation creation, data upload, graph creation, data research, and file maintenance. Geographic areas worked include Texas. Software experience in Peep, OFM, Spotfire, MS Frontpage, and Access. Ask for TE609.
Geoscience Technician with 11 years of oil and gas industry experience working for small independents. Experienced in providing technical support for geology, geophysics, land, and engineering across all discipline levels including generating maps and cross sections, loading seismic data, printing and scanning geological data, well logs, maps, cross sections, reports, and studies; searching and locating wells, ordering core samples, and maintaining databases. Software proficiency in SMT Kingdom, DrillingInfo, NeuraScanner, NeuraLaser/Viewer, MAS2000, Geoatlas, XSection, IHS Enerdeq, WellBase, DI Desktop, Global Mapper, ScanWorks/Colortrac, Query Builder, Lexco, and AFE Navigator. Geographic areas worked include the Permian Basin. Ask for TG884.
Employers take longer to hire
It seems like it takes a long, long time...so here are some thoughts on how to handle the wait to be hired.
A recent study released by the University of Chicago's Steven Davis shows that employers are increasingly taking more time to decide on making an offer for permanent hire. Whereas that number used to be under 20 days in 2001, it now resides at over 24 days on average and even higher for large companies. There are many reasons for this increased delay by the employer. The survey's results depict general economic concerns and companies becoming extremely "picky" about their choices. It makes for an interesting read, but it posed the question of what exactly is a candidate to do while waiting for the offer?
While the candidate has limited influence over the precise decision timing within the hiring organization, there are some things a professional can do and steps to avoid, and potentially sway the decision process in a positive direction.
Here are some key aspects to consider when the offer just doesn't seem to come in.
Finally, sometimes it just was not meant to be. There may be very good reasons why the job was not offered to you and that may be OK. Who knows? Maybe the job was not a "shoe-in" for you, and there may be a better offer just around the corner.
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