Continuing to offer robust staff training programmes throughout the industry downturn may not seem like a top priority.
However, my team certainly challenged me on my decision to slow down our training offer.
It felt like the right thing to do at the time.
But was it the best approach?
At this year’s OTC in Houston a key theme was balancing the need to nurture staff against the importance of cost-cutting and ongoing redundancies. Yet in previous years at OTC the main topic has been the skills shortage. We need to guard against short-term thinking.
After a downturn are we smart enough to reinvest in staff and training when the recovery comes? Cutting back on training is a short-term fix we resort to at our peril. If people are our greatest asset then we should keep faith with them when times are tough.
A recent report commissioned by CIPD and Acas showed that private sector workplaces with high levels of trust between employees and employers were more likely to think they had emerged stronger from the recession.
It is crucial that we learn from previous recessions and are better equipped for cost-cutting. Planning the redistribution of budgets and when and where we re-invest is critical.
In tough times, employers have tried to make their money go further by outsourcing training to prevent in-house teams twiddling their thumbs or by use of distance learning.
The financial sector has been through a recession and bounced back, and is now facing a skills shortage and a ‘war for talent’. The oil and gas industry will be back there soon when the recovery comes.
It is worrying that recent research discovered that over 70 per cent of oil and gas workers are considering pursuing work outside the UK, with the main reason a lack of job security.
Without continuing investment in training we may well find ourselves facing a similar predicament to the financial services. Some people may struggle to see the link between training and job security but companies that continue to invest are less likely to appear that they are about to close the doors.
The oil and gas industry is cyclical. We say we have been here before and know that things will pick up again. Perhaps we need to reflect this same confidence in our loyalty to our staff in good times and bad.
At Hunter Adams, we have taken the decision to re-invest and our training calendar for 2015 is filling up, we will top up the pot with what we didn’t spend earlier in the year. This will give the team the confidence that we still want to grow the business and need the skills to achieve that.
The other secret with training is to remind people that, as always, they don’t just develop in a classroom but continually on the job.
Dean Hunter is the managing director of Hunter Adams