Every expert was once a beginner!” – Rutherford B. Hayes
The industrial automation industry is running critically low on junior technicians with a focus on Oil and Gas. Even worse, we’re short on senior-level technicians willing to act as mentors to the younger generation. Our industry needs a reset, a succession plan, and a path forward to reduce the risk seen in the expert-level resource pool.
Given the recent lack of capital and operational expenditure in the Canadian and American Oil & Gas sector, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that very few young professionals have entered industrial automation in the Oil and Gas sector. Currently, most industrial automation technicians are senior people with many years of experience, and don’t have replacements lining up behind them.
Why is this a problem? It is a massive risk to every automated Oil & Gas operation if only a handful of senior people know the processes and aren’t given the opportunity of passing that knowledge down to replacement technicians.
Identifying and acknowledging this problem is the first step to solving it. Crossroad Energy Solutions has been discussing this situation internally and watching it materialize for some time. As demand for technical experts ramps up due to higher-oil prices, the availability of competent support will decline. In essence, the automation industry needs more junior-level technicians to step in, learn the ropes and fill the demand.
The way we see it, if we want to increase the number of junior-level technicians we need three components:
1. Solid Mentors: The value of a good mentor far exceeds simply doing good work. It takes patience, courage, and commitment to both deliver key project objectives and train apprentices. Our industry should place good mentors at the top of the food chain as we have a critical shortage of this resource.
2. Professional Beginners: These aren’t people who want their “hands held”. These are beginners who are smart, have a passion for their career, their future, and the ambition it takes to succeed as an automation technician. Professionals don’t become experts by simply learning on the job, they take an interest in their chosen field outside of the office as well. There are many smart, technically savvy people waiting for their chance to jump into industrial automation; they just need some support to get there.
3. Strategic Clients: End-users who understand the resource-crisis our industry is in and who are willing to be a part of the solution will not only help the industry overall, but will be investing in the safe, efficient, and profitable operation of their own facilities while reducing their overall risk. Mentorship and training come at an initial cost (additional hourly billings for juniors to learn). However, the payoff is a more scalable business with less risk and a safer workplace.
Today’s supply chain issues aren’t limited to products. There is a severe shortage of junior level people across the industrial automation sector which leaves many facilities at risk.
If you are interested in being a part of the solution, we want to hear from you! We need more experts and we can’t do it without these three pieces!