In this issue of LNG Industry, several articles address the workforce challenge currently facing our industry. While the battle is on to attract the limited number of skilled professionals currently available, the sector is doing its utmost to deepen the talent pool through apprenticeship schemes and by retraining workers from other heavy industries. A large proportion of these new workers will belong to ‘Generation Y’ – roughly defined as those born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s.
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The problem is, this new generation of technology-savvy workers do not respond particularly well to traditional training methods. According to an article from AVEVA starting on p. 26 of this issue, Gen Y is more easily “able to absorb industry-specific information […] if exploring unfamiliar information through an already familiar platform and learning techniques”. The company’s answer to this dilemma? Industrial gaming.
The theory goes that the ‘already familiar’ gaming genre can help the younger generation to assimilate the information required to perform safely and effectively within the LNG industry, as Gen Yers respond better to “visual and kinaesthetic learning” techniques. Furthermore, this method of training should be applicable to other generations, as we all excel at playing games long before we learn how to work.
Of course, it is one thing to effectively train (or retrain) your current workforce, and another thing entirely to attract new recruits to the industry. But perhaps the gaming sector can help here too. The US Army has seen significant success with its ‘America’s Army’ recruitment tool – a video game designed to let players experience what life is like in the army. And although the LNG industry may not have guns and bad guys, who’s to say that a video game simulating the experience of running an LNG plant can’t be equally successful in helping to attract the next wave of engineering graduates to the industry?
Recruiters need to go where their audience spend the majority of their time. And if Gen Y isn’t playing on its games console, there is every chance that it is engaging with social media. According to a recent InSites Consulting research community project, the average Gen Yer is a member of 2.5 social networks, with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn the most popular platforms. On top of this, 80% of those polled said that they log-on to social media every day.
Whilst these stats may fill some employers with dread – a separate survey from Hays plc indicates that 58% of Gen Y consider social media to be a distraction at work – others will see a golden opportunity to reach out directly to the engineers of tomorrow. Social media opens up a world of contacts, from all walks of life. If recruiters can connect with this enormous online contact book in an effective and engaging way, the rewards could be considerable.
But social media isn’t just for Gen Y. There are dozens of LNG-related interest groups on LinkedIn alone, offering industry veterans the opportunity to keep informed, expand their network of contacts, and share opinion with their peers.
We’re a social bunch here at LNG Industry. In addition to recently launching our brand new website: www.lngindustry.com – dedicated to the latest news, events and expert comment from across the global LNG industry – we are also heavily involved in Gen Y’s top four social networks. So, whether you’re a member of Gen Y, Gen X or a Baby Boomer, join one of our social media groups using the links below: