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An Opportunity to Survive and Thrive During the Oil and Gas Industry Downturn.

As many oil and gas companies begin their planning cycles this September they will most likely seek to continue to cut their overheads – both in terms of manpower and other costs.

Many HR Learning & Development teams have already been decimated  and many organisations will see it as an opportunity to further reduce staff numbers, continue to cut back on ‘non essential’ internal and external costs, and ensure their organisations are lean enough to get through the current recessionary cycle. One of the most obvious cuts is non-regulatory skills training.

Those of us who have been in the industry through a number of cycles understand the inevitable consequences when the upturn comes, as we have seen them many times before. Experienced people leave the industry, many never to return. Capability is cut to the bone to ensure survival, staff costs are cut, with staff and contractors seeing a reduction in their pay, terms and conditions – and their development opportunities.  The supply chain follows suit to ensure their survival and the industry adapts to the ‘new reality’. The industry becomes leaner and more cost efficient. But does it?

When the inevitable upturn comes the industry faces a new set of challenges in common with every previous cycle – a shortage of experienced and skilled staff. But what if there was another way? What if the downturn was seen as an opportunity rather than a threat?

Retaining and up-skilling the next generation is hard to achieve in an upturn, when releasing staff for training & development is difficult and some of the most experienced staff are no longer with the organisation. So how can learning & development suppliers turn a threat into an opportunity – delivering costs reductions AND accredited skills development programmes?

20|20 is a specialist project management training company that has invested heavily in flexible blended learning programmes accredited by the Association for Project Management (APM) and The Project Management Institute (PMI). This is our response to cost-reduction AND the need to train and develop the next generation for the industry.

The Oil & Gas Industry is fundamentally about projects – delivering them on time, within budget and scope.  What could be more important when seeking to make an organisation more cost-efficient, lean and profitable in an era of $60 a barrel or less? What if staff could access the highest quality accredited on-line learning available for a fraction of the cost of classroom courses – to learn in their own language and at a time to suit them – providing them with an opportunity to become accredited to international standards?

For the many organisations paying the training levy to The Engineering & Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) much of the cost may often be recovered via its training grants.  As ECITB’s Training Provider of the Year 2015, we can work with you to design and deliver a cost neutral project management skills development programme.

So what makes a learning organisation different? It recognises that learning is an area of opportunity in a downturn, not a threat. It invests in ensuring that project teams are ready to meet the challenges of managing projects better – and more efficiently – providing a return on investment that is directly reflected in the organisation’s performance today.  And it remembers the mistakes of previous downturns – and learns from them. Our Clients are using technology to develop their staff more cost-efficiently and improving their project performance right now. Will your organisation be a learning organisation?

Tony Marks has 25 years experience in the oil and gas sector.  He is CEO of 20|20 Business Group, a Fellow of The Association for Project Management, author of ’20:20 Project Management’, and co-founded 20|20 in an oil downturn – an organisation that is now the leading specialist project management training company in the oil & gas sector.