Industry, here is your wake-up call for the next boom cycle: There will be a personnel shortage worse than the last one if we don’t ramp up recruiting, training and development right now – because that upturn is just around the corner.
2010 IADC chairman Louis Raspino delivered this wake-up call to the audience on the opening day of the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in New Orleans on 2 February, stressing the importance that everyone take action now.
“The downturn has stalled progress on key challenges against which we were all beginning to make important inroads,” Mr Raspino acknowledged, but now is the time to refocus.
Billions of dollars have been spent on growing the worldwide rig fleet in the past few years – highly automated, sophisticated and complex machines that will require a high level of skills to operate. Yet there’s no amount of money the industry can pay in order to magically give a new employee 15 years of experience overnight, Mr Raspino said.
“We know there will always been cycles in this business. We should remember how panicked we were just a short 18 months ago – before the downturn – when we could all see predictions of the whole industry running out of skilled labor and the chaos and crisis it was going to cause,” he commented.
He continued by cautioning companies to focus on the long-term future, not short-term costs. “If we slam on the brakes now as an industry in continuing to invest in training and developing new employees, we’re setting up for an even worse panic tomorrow.”
And if companies are depending on a strategy of hiring employees away from either competitors, vendors or even customers, that’s certainly not going to work out in the long run. Mr Raspino cautioned that “such a strategy can neither sustain nor grow a company or an industry.”
Poaching would only increase turnover, raise costs, hurt safety performance and drag down overall performance.
He urged companies to renew their focus on technical training and competency development, as well as make meaningful investments in leadership training and development. “Remember, a large number of today’s employees need to be developed into tomorrow’s leaders of our rapidly expanding industry,” he said.
Continuing to improve our HSE performance will also be critical going forward. HSE performance impacts everything from employee morale to customer satisfaction and the industry’s public image and success. “Long gone are the days when we can shrug off incidents with a ‘stuff happens’ attitude.”
He points out that greater cooperation among all segments of the drilling and completion industry will be essential in the pursuit of this goal. “After all, as drilling contractors, our statistics, as our customers remind us all the time, are their statistics. So they have justifiably high expectations in what we do as contractors. Therefore, our safety standards and environmental stewardship must be aligned.”
Mr Raspino concluded his address by calling conference participants’ attention to an emerging legislative fight in the US over Chinese drill pipe supplies. Click here for more information.