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Skills gap is stalling digital progress in energy sector

A lack of digital skills and internal barriers related to company culture and mindset are the biggest roadblocks hindering digital progress in the energy sector.

Some 71 per cent of organizations in the industry need staff with combined domain and digital experience – and 18 per cent claim to not have a single employee with this combined skillset.What are the roadblocks to digital progress in the energy sector?

These are just some of the findings from the new DNV GL report Digitalization and the future of energy which surveyed nearly 2000 engineers and senior executives from start-ups to large corporations in the energy sector.

The research also reveals unanimous recognition that digital skills training is needed, with 91 per cent of respondents regarding it fundamental for their organization to invest in.

Data science and big data analytics are the most important digital skillsets for future energy workforces, cited by 41 per cent and 35 per cent of respondents respectively. Even though data science was highlighted as the most sought-after skill, currently only 23 per cent of respondents stated that this role exists within their organization. Creativity was also ranked highly, with 65 per cent of respondents saying that they need employees with creative problem-solving skills among their workforce.

DNV GL says that the energy industry “needs to change rapidly, striving to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard the planet for future generations. Transforming traditional operations through digitalization plays a vital role in enabling this change and facilitating the energy transition that humanity needs so desperately to deliver.”

Lucy Craig, vice-president of Technology and Innovation at DNV GL-Energy, explained: “The energy industry is facing internal organizational hurdles that threaten its ability to keep up with the pace of digital progress.

“The technology to enable digital transformation is available but there’s a critical element missing that needs to be in place for digitalization to be successful. Organizations need to invest in practical skills training combined with a mindset shift to ensure their employees have the skills to add value on top of technology implementation.”

But she added that “just as we need to foster an individual mindset geared towards digitalization, we also need to foster a collective one too, one which goes to the core of a company’s culture and challenges the industry’s strategic and operational ways of working”.

To download the full report, Digitalization and the future of energy: Beyond the hype – How to create value by combining digital technology, people and business strategy, click here.
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Digitalization in the energy sector will be a major talking point among speakers at at POWERGEN Asia and Asian Utility Week in Malaysia in September, and also at European Utility Week and POWERGEN Europe in Paris in November.