What training is needed for the petroleum and alternative energy industries to thrive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
That was the focal point of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Upskill Forum, featuring Ron Nickelson, RigUp’s Head of Solar, along with the following expert panelists:
-Brooke Polk, Director of Program Development and Technology at the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)
-Linda Head, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor at Lone Star College
-Tracee Herring, Global Learning Leader for Technical Expertise and Support at Dow
Aaron S. Demerson, Commissioner Representing Employers at the Texas Workforce Commission, delivered opening remarks. Moderator Seth Green, from the Office of Employer Initiatives for the Texas Workforce Commission, opened asking panelists to explain the biggest skill gaps for new hires right now.
Biggest Skill Gaps for New Hires:
-Basic troubleshooting skills
-Professional development skills, such as brainstorming
-Understanding of equipment and safety
-Process control strategies
-Relationship skills, such as networking
-Electrical and mechanical skills
Building a Culture of Safety
The panelists underscored safety as the top priority for training programs, especially during the changing workforce landscape of COVID-19, developing what Brooke Polk described as “ground-level safety culture.”
How those skills gaps are being addressed during COVID-19 varies, from the work of Lone Star College bringing online classes to students to IADC’s virtual training environments that incorporate cloud-based simulation.
Nickelson spoke to RigUp’s robust efforts to close skills gaps and meet safety protocols for the alternative energy sector. Though traditionally, crews were moved into an area for a job, Nickelson said they are now often asked by client companies to partner with local resources. “That starts with an online assessment to see if they’re going to be acclimated for the site. Then that goes to safety training,” he said. “When we’re supporting companies at that level, safety is going to be the primary driver so we’re going through multiple safety courses before they ever step on site.”
RigUp requires at least an OSHA 10 certification, along with on-the-job training and other certifications leading to career progression, Nickelson explained.
Utilizing Data to Measure Training Success
A forum participant asked what data can be utilized to know if these new training protocols are working in the field, and to ensure vital skills are not being lost. Tracee Herring, Global Learning Leader for Technical Expertise and Support at Dow, highlighted three questions that serve as indicators of whether leaning development methods are working:
- Is your time to competency improving?
- Are there reductions in errors at work?
- How many of the unplanned events in your work environment can be tied to a training issue?
RigUp was honored to add our expertise in the alternative energy sector to this important and timely conversation. You can watch the entirety of the forum here.