February 24, 2014
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, Texas.
The forum, sponsored by the Atmos Energy Corporation and The Mosaic Company 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 & 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 Company 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.
'We all operate under the same federal regulations,' said Fred Beversdorf, manager of Atmos Energy's technical training delivery. 'Therefore, if we can help each other raise the bar on safety and reliability, it can help our industry as a whole.
'All of us want to do the right things, and we want to do our work smartly,' Beversdorf added. 'We all benefit from developing employees who are highly skilled and engaged. It's just smart to share the knowledge and ideas we have.'
Participants at the Feb. 10 Gas & Pipeline Training Roundtable included Atmos Energy, BP, Centerpoint Energy, National Grid, Dominion East Ohio, Kinder Morgan, LG&E and KU, NiSource, NW Natural, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southwest Gas, Spectra Energy and Xcel Energy.
Mosaic is a training and workforce consulting firm, providing custom solutions to utilities and oil & gas companies. The expertise and experience of our people'our most valuable asset'helps companies reach and sustain the highest levels of workforce competency, quality, safety and efficiency. We prepare employees for critical business challenges, new technologies, process changes and evolving compliance requirements. Our tailor-made, pragmatic solutions improve workforce performance and create change to better support a company's mission and goals.
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Contact person: Christina Kelly, Director of Communications
The Mosaic Company