Gulf oil and gas industry must address skills shortages, says Pearson expert
Providing technical and vocational education options for Gulf nationals will help the region’s oil and gas industry meet future demand for workers, says an expert from one of the world’s largest learning companies, Pearson.
Sean Price, Head of Direct Delivery at Pearson, says that the industry must look ahead to ensure it has the staff requirements to meet an expected strong, global demand for energy.
The long-term outlook for the energy industry remains buoyant, despite a growing international interest in renewable and alternative forms of energy. A recent report from Deloitte says that US$68 billion worth of oil and gas contracts are planned for the GCC over the next five years, and 60 percent of global energy consumption will be supplied by oil and gas by 2040 – up from 55 percent in 2010.
The report cites the sector’s skills shortage as one of the major challenges facing the energy industry. A lack of adequately trained energy industry personnel is a global problem, but more pronounced in the Middle East where not enough students are pursuing science and technology related careers.
Mr Price says that this shortage is set to have serious ramifications for the region’s energy industry:
“The widely held view of both the industry and independent analysts is that there will be a rise in the number of workers needed in the hydrocarbon sector over the coming decade and beyond. This is in part due to an increase in demand for oil and gas, as well as a rise in the number of conventional and non-conventional energy fields being developed, all around the world. The industry faces the additional challenge of having an aging workforce, with a significant proportion of its workforce approaching retirement age – a situation that is only going to make the existing skills shortage more problematic”.
Competition for skilled labour is particularly acute in Gulf countries, where despite efforts by local governments, an expatriate oil and gas workforce remains the norm. There is a substantial shortage of workers who possess technical or vocational qualifications in the electrical, production processes, mechanical, pipe-fitting, drilling operations and plant construction fields. Mr Price says that part of the problem lies in the lack of education institutions providing qualifications in these skills, and that education providers and industry must work together to ensure that the education options available to young Gulf nationals meets the oil and gas industry’s demand for skilled vocational workers.
“Pearson, through its training business, TQ, is assisting governments with the implementation of national employment strategies by offering Gulf nationals the opportunity to gain an internationally recognised qualification that will help them gain employment in an oil and gas company. The training of young people in the Arab world for promising careers in oil and gas will also help to secure the future stability of the industry, which is of enormous economic and social importance to the region."
TQ works with a number of education and training providers in Saudi Arabia. TQ is responsible for operating the Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic (SPSP), founded to provide training solutions specifically for the oil and gas industry. The college equips Saudi school leavers with a two-year vocational qualification that was developed in close consultation with major employers in the Kingdom to meet developing personnel needs.
TQ also delivers academic and construction skills training at Jizan Construction Centre in the south-west of the Kingdom and provides an extensive portfolio of training options for the world’s largest oil and gas company, Saudi Aramco.
Mr Price says he hopes that the increasing popularity of TQ’s programmes in Saudi Arabia is evidence of the growing number of young people seeking a career in the hydrocarbon sector.
“A major strength of TQ is its oil and gas training experience – providing young people in Saudi and beyond with the skills and qualifications they need for a long and successful career in the industry. Equipping school leavers in Saudi with the tools they need to thrive in an energy company is also helping to build a strong, capable workforce for the future of a country where oil and gas exploitation is the cornerstone of economic prosperity."