IT is always disappointing to hear of companies going out of business, but a long downward economic cycle will always have its casualties – it’s just natural selection, the survival of the fittest.
A downturn however is also a time of opportunity to start up new ventures and to invest in up-skilling. Rather than looking at training as a major expense, it should be seen as an investment in the overall quality of the performance of the business. In the end a company can only benefit from adequately trained staff.
The October 2012 Skills Pulse Survey by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) identified technical/practical skills along with improving management skills as the most pressing needs of employers.
In the Oil & Gas sector, many organisations report an acute skills shortage, which is exacerbated by the rush for delivery of projects. The reasons for this are varied and complex but in essence are due to an aging workforce who are retiring, more strain on those remaining and fewer new blood wanting to join the Oil & Gas industry.
Small and medium sized company’s (SMEs) are often faced with additional challenges. Those with the required skills are able to demand unaffordable salaries putting undue pressure on the company’s cashflow whilst the most appropriate person for the job is often not required on a full time or permanent basis, putting the smaller company at a distinct disadvantage. Ultimately, SMEs often find that the resource they most lack is their own management time.
So is it all doom and gloom or are there ways even the smallest of company can maintain skills during these challenging times?
The underpinning activity of any company should be to train and develop your own people, making sure you train your employees on the job in a structured manner. Capturing each individual’s knowledge into the business allows you to plan for when a member of staff leaves whilst similarly, succession plans need to be in place for key people, ensuring a structured development for those who might replace them.
Effective HR activities are crucial as successful recruiting and retention of key staff will help any business remain competitive. Equally, using temporary resources effectively such as interim management and coaching or mentoring can be cost effective, leaving you to get on with the important day to day running of your business.
Ultimately, identifying which skills are the ones that are the most difficult to replace, who has them and who needs to develop them is arguably the activity that enables an SME to flourish and achieve longevity.
At FQM we specialise in management systems, HSEQ consultancy and training. Either directly or through our associate network, we can help with all of the above to maintain your skills in these challenging times and ensure you’re still in business this time next year.