November 2020


Creating a roadmap for professional skills in Industry 4.0

The oil and gas industry has overcome many challenges by keeping up with technology advances, achieving cost-effective practices and meeting energy efficiency requirements.

Akyazi, T., Oyarbide, A., Goti, A., Gaviria, J., University of Deusto; Bayon, F., Sidenor Aceros Especiales SLU

The oil and gas industry has overcome many challenges by keeping up with technology advances, achieving cost-effective practices and meeting energy efficiency requirements. Recently, changes have come to the industry due to rapid digitalization—the next industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Manufacturing models are changing through the use of smart technologies that enable new and more efficient processes, products and services.1

This revolution is taking place in various sectors and at changing speeds, depending on the business model of each sector. The digitalization trend in the oil and gas industry means more than increased productivity, however. It also means safer work environments for employees, which results in more attractive jobs and provides space for creativity and expertise.

Digitalization forces improvements in the quality and relevance of employee skills to meet the needs of the oil and gas sector, since the human factor is the most fundamental component of Industry 4.0.2,3 Due to the changes increasingly faced by the industry, updates are required to workforce qualifications, knowledge and skills. New skills will be in demand in manufacturing, particularly related to service provision and software development in oil and gas.4

Having a competent workforce that can handle quickly changing technology is key to overcoming the challenges posed by Industry 4.0. However, employees may not possess all the skills needed to excel.5 Existing skill sets must be examined, and future skill requirements must be outlined. This process will pave the way for applicable training and education programs to retain and hire skilled employees, which will increase the overall production efficiency of the sector.

The oil and gas industry is in need of a roadmap to guide the sector through Industry 4.0. This roadmap will provide the skills and competencies demanded by each job profile related to this area. In this work, the authors explore the current and future skills and competencies demanded by professional profiles (engineers, operators, managers, etc.) in the oil and gas industry. They also generate an automated database that can be used as a fundamental model during the changes brought about by Industry 4.0.

Aim of the study

Technological and digital developments, together with energy efficiency demands, result in considerable challenges to the oil and gas industry. The need exists for a continuous update of qualifications, skills and knowledge to build a highly qualified, multi-skilled labor pool that can simultaneously handle all of these developments.

By updating qualifications and skills, the workforces of today and tomorrow will be able to adapt to digital transformation, changes in production processes and newly introduced working practices connected with computer science and Industry 4.0.6,7 Also, technical challenges specific to the oil and gas sector, such as clean fuels processes and regulations for energy efficiency and emissions, will require the development of new skills to correctly manage them.8 These skills must be constantly implemented in training programs to develop the tools required to implement the digital transformation process.6,9,10

The three steps and objectives of this industry-driven strategy are summarized as follows:

  1. Step 1 involves analyzing the state of digital transformation of the oil and gas industry6 and key trends on upcoming technological developments.9 A future scenario is developed by identifying the primary technological developments and the related skills and competencies. Economic development related to digital transformation also should be evaluated.6,10 The production processes and workforce affected by the digital transformation are identified. Skills adequacy and the gaps between workforce knowledge and industry needs are preliminarily reviewed.6
  2. Step 2 describes the skills and professional job profiles needed in the future and identifies the skills gaps caused by existing and foreseen technological developments.6,9 The key goal is to proactively identify the skills needed to meet industry demands.6 A database of professional profiles with needed skills and competencies is developed to generate an internationally common ground and a mutual recognition for the job profiles, skills and competencies needed in the oil and gas sector.
  3. Step 3 addresses training and curricula requirements identified within the framework of emerging digitalization. Training systems
    for the selected skills and job profiles are created.9 Training programs should be continuously improved and updated to reach the highest quality.6 The workforce’s adaptation to the emerging needs of the sector is ensured through these training programs. Methods for talent management and recruitment
    are included in this step.6

These steps will help ensure a better match between the skills needs of companies and the skills provided by training centers.9 New standards will be generated for sector skills recognition,6 which will help attract more talented people to the oil and gas industry, improve opportunities for a more diverse talent pool and overcome recruitment challenges.6,9,10

In this study, the authors analyzed the state of the industry from a workforce perspective. Job profiles and needed skills were reviewed and obtained, and job profiles that will be affected by the digital transformation were outlined. Skills gaps during future digital transformation were identified, along with the skills and competencies needed by these job profiles. Finally, a database of these professional profiles and skills was created to predict the skills that will be needed to carry out a successful technological transformation. The authors believe this database will be a useful tool during the digital transformation of the oil and gas sector.

Study methodology

The database generation process was based on the European Commission’s ESCO (European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) pillar. The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and several sectorial European projects were also consulted.

ESCO functions as a dictionary by describing, identifying and classifying professional occupations, skills and qualifications relevant for the labor market, education and training. It is directly linked to the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), which classifies occupation groups managed by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The information and data in ESCO is based on original work published by the ILO.

CEPIS is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve and promote a high standard among informatics professionals in recognition of the impact that informatics has on employment, business and society. During the development of the future skills and competencies outlined in this work, the authors collected data from the European Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Professional Role Profiles framework created by CEN and CEPIS. The authors’ research also benefited from strategic sectorial and inter-sectorial projects, such as the steel sector project ESSA,6 the automotive sector project DRIVES,9 the quality apprenticeships project APPRENTICESHIPQ10 and the smart engineering project SMeART.11

Professional profiles related to the oil and gas industry in the ESCO database were identified and extracted. A database was automated in Excel, using Visual Basic for Applications. Job profiles were reviewed individually to identify which jobs will be significantly affected by digital technology developments. Information from the sectoral and inter-sectoral strategic projects was extracted to analyze anticipated changes to job profiles and skills needed for the digital transformation. The new skills and competencies were added to the database.

The European ICT Professional Role Profiles database offers 30 specific job profiles with changing skills as a result of Industry 4.0. It also provides additional skills that will be needed by these jobs in the near future. All of these skills were added to the database. FIG. 1 shows a brief view of the automated database with professional job profiles related to oil and gas and the key skills demanded by these job profiles.

FIG. 1. An abbreviated view of the database, including skills and competencies required by professional profiles in the oil and gas sector.

Summary and future trends

The professional skills and competencies required by the oil and gas sector are in a continuous process of evolution due to widespread digitalization. The oil and gas sector must improve the quality and relevance of its skills to meet the current and future requirements of Industry 4.0. To make these improvements, a roadmap is needed to predict the skills that will be needed over the mid-term.

The database resulting from the authors’ work can be used as a sectoral and academic guideline to foresee mid-term job market changes through Industry 4.0. After current and future requirements are described by the industry, it is possible to prepare updated, sustainable and well-developed training and education programs to deliver these needed skills through a successful collaboration between academia and industry. Skills gaps will be bridged, and the oil and gas sector will attract people with the necessary skills and competencies. As a result, production efficiency will be increased. HP


This paper is supported by the EU project blueprint “New skills agenda steel: Industry-driven sustainable European steel skills agenda and strategy (ESSA),” belonging to the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances, Project Lifetime Program, Agreement Number: 2018-3059/001-001 and Project Number: 600886-EPP-1-2018-1-DE-EPPKA2-SSA-B.


  1. Jagannathan, S., S. Ra and R. Maclean, “Dominant recent trends impacting on jobs and labor markets—An overview,” International Journal of Training Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2019.
  2. Sorli Peña, M. A., “Fabricación 4.0 y el factor humano,” Revista de Ingenieria DYNA, Vol. 94, No. 1, 2019.
  3. Kados, S., I. Angulo-Martinez, A. Goti, P. Singh and P. Garcia-Bringas, “Fabricando el futuro: FabLabs,” Revista de Ingenieria DYNA, Vol. 93, No. 6, 2018.
  4. Freddi, D., “Digitalisation and employment in manufacturing,” AI & Society, Vol. 33, No. 3, 2018.
  5. Goti-Elordi, A., M. Maria Egana-Errasti and A. Iturritxa-Perez de Albeniz, “The Status of industrial maintenance in Spain: Inquiry on the status of industrial maintenance and the application of tools oriented to the maintenance decision making,” Revista de Ingenieria DYNA, Vol. 84, No. 3, 2018.
  6. “New skills agenda steel: Industry-driven sustainable European steel skills agenda and strategy (ESSA),” Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances and Dortmund University, January 1, 2019– December 31, 2022, online:
  7. Kimita, D. and J. Lemanowicz, “Securing industrial systems in a digital world,” Hydrocarbon Processing, October 2019.
  8. Benintendi, R., G. De Mare and Nesticó, “Upgrade the ALARP model as a holistic approach to project risk and decision management: A case study,” Hydrocarbon Processing, July 2018.
  9. “DRIVES: Development and research on innovative vocational educational skills,” Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances and Technical University of Ostrava, January 1, 2018–December 31, 2021, online:
  10. “Mainstreaming procedures for quality apprenticeships in educational organisations and enterprises (ApprenticeshipQ),” Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances and Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, January 1, 2018–December 31, 2020, online:
  11. “SMeART—Knowledge alliance for upskilling Europe’s SMES to meet the challenges of smart engineering,” Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances and Fachhochschule des Mittelstands, January 1, 2017–December 31, 2019, online:

The Authors

Related Articles

From the Archive



{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}