Education and training providers will meet with some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies at this year’s VTEC MENA Conference, held at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic from the 25th to 27th November. The Conference, which is run by Getenergy, provides an opportunity for representatives of the oil and gas industry to discuss the personnel and training challenges they face in ensuring the long-term viability of their companies.
One of the main difficulties facing the industry is the lack of technically trained personnel available from within the region. The shortage of industry workers arising out of this expansion is being exacerbated by the large percentage of the industry’s global workforce that is approaching retirement age. According to a 2012 International Labor Organization (ILO) report, the industry is currently suffering from shortages in a wide range of skilled occupations. The report says that almost four out of five oil and gas companies complained that technical skills were a main area of staff shortages.
This global problem is particularly acute in Gulf countries, where oil and gas companies have traditionally relied on an expatriate workforce to meet labor force demands. However, as the global talent pool dries up and expatriate labor becomes increasingly expensive to maintain, these companies are looking to the local workforce to fill more positions across a range of technical areas.
This increased reliance on local talent has many benefits for Gulf countries where youth unemployment rates are significantly higher than base unemployment rates. In addition, many of the skills being learnt by new entrants to the industry are transferable to future employment outside of the oil and gas sectors – helping to fuel the drive in Gulf countries towards more diversified, knowledge-based economies.
However, the up-skilling of local populations presents a major challenge not only for oil and gas companies operating in the GCC, but also for local governments and training providers. VTEC MENA offers an excellent opportunity for the industry to connect with education and training organizations that have the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle this deep-set skills crisis.
Mark Andrews, the Regional Director of Pearson Qualifications International (PQI), says that vocational training is critical to ensuring the long-term success of the industry.
“The fast growing oil and gas and unconventional energy sectors are driving huge demand for vocationally trained employees throughout the Arab world. It is unsustainable to continue to have key technical functions in these businesses carried out by a transient, expatriate labour force.
“Developing partnerships between large petrochemical companies and training providers is one way in which oil and gas companies can build local talent in their organizations. Investing in the development of nationals working in the industry by providing them with an internationally accredited qualification has shown to be effective in safeguarding the future prosperity of both individuals and the companies in which they work”.