Dr Roula Michaelides, Director of Studies for the online MSc in Project Management, University of Liverpool, comments on the increased demand for online management programmes with oil and gas specialisms as mid-career executives act to seize the wealth of opportunities available in the sector.

Dr Roula Michaelides, Director of Studies for the online MSc in Project Management, University of Liverpool, comments on the increased demand for online management programmes with oil and gas specialisms as mid-career executives act to seize the wealth of opportunities available in the sector.

While confidence in the energy sector is at an all-time high, this booming industry is not without its challenges.

With skills shortages being widely reported yet millions of pounds of planned investment estimated, the industry is understandably rallying to recruit and retain the best employees across all divisions of the business including project management.

This comes at a time when companies are increasingly focused on both the short and long term benefits of strategic project management to ensure they can deliver and execute the million dollar projects planned worldwide.

In addition, many industry experts have said the generational time bomb facing the industry has helped to hasten the requirement for talent. With almost half of those working in the energy sector nearing retirement age, many fear a ‘cliff’ effect if there isn’t a surge of talent ready to take the reins.

In the last three years, the University of Liverpool has witnessed a growing demand from postgraduate students at executive level for fully online management degree programmes that contain oil and gas specialisms. The online programmes currently have students in management positions at some of the world’s most well-known companies such as BP.

Introduced in 2009, the University of Liverpool’s online programmes that include an oil and gas specialism have seen student numbers grow by 2,416% after year one with a steady 45% growth in the years that followed.

This level of uptake suggests an emerging class of executives within the energy sector who see an opportunity to build their skill set while learning on the job, putting them in a prime position to move up through the ranks and grasp opportunities as they arise.

In areas plagued with skills shortages, those who have taken the initiative to further themselves and lead by example can not only answer an industry demand but can also give themselves the best chance of advancing their careers rapidly.

The University of Liverpool has seen its highest intake of online students with oil and gas specialisms to date in 2012/13, perhaps buoyed by the industry’s interest in the growth area of shale gas.

The option of 100% online programmes also answers the dilemma for those working overseas, who cannot commit to campus-based learning.

For those, also, who have considered expanding their skillset but who couldn’t feasibly put their career on hold to go back in to full time education, the accessibility of an online programme offers opens another door for them, providing them with a more attractive offer.

Not only do students avoid relinquishing a salary, they can continue to work and see the immediate benefits of the course by applying knowledge as soon as it is learned.

The energy sector will continue to grow and as in any boom industry, opportunities are there for the taking. Million-pound projects require astute and capable project managers across all areas of the business and what we expect to see over the next couple of years is the emergence of a new generation of global management in what is conceivably the world’s biggest sector.

The University of Liverpool offers the following online programmes with oil and gas specialisms: MSc Operations and Supply Chain Management, MSc Project Management and MSc International Management.