NextGen Credentials: Shaping the Workforce of the Future

By Andri Orphanides, Director of Individual Certification Programs at American Petroleum Institute. January 22, 2024

Technology is producing profound impacts on our world, changing the way we live and work. This transformation is equally visible in the oil and gas industry, which has embraced technological innovations to increase efficiency. More and more jobs now utilize cutting-edge tools that require a deeper knowledge from those operating or overseeing asset integrity, helping to keep the industry safe and reliable.

Recognizing these changes, over the last year, API embarked on exploring the concept of NextGen Credentials to assist in transforming the workforce that is and will be needed. Technology has become an integral part of our industry, with emerging trends that include big data analytics, robotics, drones, and automation, to name just a few. As these trends unfold, new job functions are emerging, and new departments are forming to address IT needs and new equipment. With new techniques and procedures introduced, the requisite skillsets are being reassessed.

Technology and AI will not replace the individual’s job; rather, the individual who knows how to apply these tools will be in high demand. Several factors merit consideration: attracting new talent to our industry, understanding how traditional field inspector roles are changing, and helping upskill the current workforce to remain relevant for emerging job functions.

Our industry has, at times, struggled to attract talent from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. As the aging workforce exits the industry, the knowledge gap will widen. Gen Zers seem skeptical and slow to embrace job opportunities in oil and gas.

How do we bridge this gap?

The ICP Program has partnered with industry experts to understand how it can further support the oil and gas industry by expanding its certification programs to incorporate new practices that rely on emerging technologies. The goal was to create a senior-level, member-driven workgroup across all industry streams to discuss and research new job functions.

What question are we trying to answer?

Is there a need to marry professional credentials with the technological needs of the industry to establish a base standard for qualified individuals?

The workgroup has begun researching and discussing emerging technologies. They are identifying areas within the oil and gas industry where qualified professionals are required, determining the job categories and functions, and assessing areas where certification of individuals is necessary. After prioritizing those roles, we will see if there is industry support to move forward.

We are not undertaking this journey alone. We will continue to engage with the industry for input and insights as we start to build the roadmap of possibilities. An industry survey will follow to help inform and guide the group’s work. As with all of our programs, we will look for the appropriate committee consensus on steps to take and actions to prioritize.

Future Forward Success

Sustained success in the oil and gas industry will reflect our ability to develop a skilled and future-ready workforce. The NextGen Credentials Concept is a strategic initiative that fosters this ambition, a commitment to help industry professionals gain the skills to excel in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

I will be presenting a deep dive into the NextGen Credentials Concept at the 2024 Inspection Summit (see below). I invite you to learn more about this transformative journey. Together, we can shape a workforce that can meet our industry’s emerging challenges and opportunities.

The author of this article, Andri Orphanides, will be speaking at a session called “NextGen Credentialing: Bridging the Technology Gap” at this week's API Inspection & Mechanical Integrity Summit. The session is scheduled for Thursday, January 25 at 1:30 PM CST in room 210B. Please refer to API’s conference program for more information.

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