Aging Workforce, Comprehensive Training Are Key Issues At 2014 Pipeline Roundtable

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An aging workforce, new operator qualifications and comprehensive training for oil and gas employees were top issues discussed by leaders in the natural gas utility and transmission industry at the 2014 Annual Gas & Pipeline Training Roundtable recently held in Dallas, TX.
  The forum, sponsored by the Atmos Energy Corp. and The Mosaic Co. is designed to share best practices in training and to foster a dialogue among industry leaders about employee development.
  Like other large industries, the natural gas business is watching Baby Boomer employees retire at an accelerating pace. Replacing these employees is particularly challenging among natural gas utilities, said John Benoit, director of oil and gas practice area at Mosaic.
  Participants at the roundtable noted that many employees in their organizations can retire during the next five years. Those retiring often have 30- to 40-year careers in the utility industry with extensive industry knowledge. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the average age today of an oil and gas worker is 49, considered among the oldest of any industry.
  “It’s an industry challenge. We need to bridge the knowledge gap by building training programs and mentorships as we recruit younger generations who will need to develop the knowledge of those who are retiring,” said Benoit. “To remain safe, the industry is under pressure to ensure that its workforce is competent and qualified. The ‘tribal knowledge’ walking out the door is a genuine business problem.”
  Last year, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Mosaic created the two-day event to present findings from an industry-wide benchmark of natural gas training programs. Conducted by Mosaic, the survey found strengths in training as well as opportunities for improvement.
  Both utilities and oil and gas companies are in a rapid state of change, and technology is moving the industry in ways that were unimagined 50 years ago, Benoit said.