THE old adage “knowledge is power” remains as relevant today as it was when first coined in the 16th century, says Jonathan D’Arcy.
Its origins are uncertain, but authors, law makers and politicians have used it ever since.
An extended version was promoted by American founding father Thomas Jefferson: “Knowledge is power, knowledge is safety, and knowledge is happiness.” This certainly rings true in the oil and gas industry. As employees move on, retire or change position, knowledge must be shared so expertise is not lost forever. In modern Scottish business, this has never been more relevant.
A genuine team mentality is hard to find, but a solid mentoring framework creates a special atmosphere. Many leaders feel this is a tick-box exercise, so employee engagement takes low priority. But there has to be recognition that effort truly pays off in daily performance, long-term results, increased safety and understanding.
The Small Business Survey conducted by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills found that just 8 per cent of SME employers used a mentor within their training schemes over a 12-month period. We must dramatically improve this statistic.
The magic of mentoring should be harnessed in the UK’s oil and gas industry. The UK Continental Shelf Offshore Workforce Demographics Report 2013 found that the average age of the industry’s workforce was 41.1 years and this had remained reasonably constant since 2006. It also found the age bracket with the highest growth was between 23 and 28, two and a half times greater than in the 60 to 65 category.
Those in the latter group undoubtedly have skills and experience to teach their younger counterparts. If each experienced professional took someone under their wing for two hours a week, the results would be striking. Theoretical and practical-based learning would be bolstered by real-life experience and sound advice.
By dedicating resources to training and coaching in this way, companies will experience improved productivity and improved profit. If management teams buy into mentorship, workers will follow their example. Mentors can have a positive influence on the careers of less experienced colleagues and build powerful relationships.
• Jonathan D’Arcy is managing director of engineering consultancy Apollo