Human capital development vital to energy industry

The first panel of day three at ADIPEC discussed two of the most pressing issues facing the petroleum industry: developing, attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce and replenishing an ageing workforce with a new generation of future leaders.

While finding future leaders is essential to deal with the major issues confronting the industry, the experienced panel all agreed that the oil and gas industry is facing a challenge bringing in this new generation. The four main speakers gave detailed insights into the strategies of their companies - Saudi Aramco, BP, ExxonMobil and ADMA-OPCO - towards sustaining human capital.
Ali Rashid Al-Jarwan from ADMA-OPCO argued that the question of human resources is the most important item on the agenda this week at ADIPEC. He explained that the industry could only expand if it had competent engineers and managers. However, the dilemma facing the industry is that production needs will increase by 100 per cent in the next seven years. This means that the oil and gas industry will have to repeat what it has achieved in the past 20 years in only the next five years.
Charles Proctor from BP agreed that the development of human capital is one of the most important issues facing the industry. Proctor argued that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to solve the issue but provided an insight into the areas which could prove critical in alleviating the problem. The recruitment of a new generation of workers and knowledge transfer will play a critical part in the process of developing human capital, he suggested. Sam Conner from ExxonMobil concurred, arguing that the transfer of wisdom will be critical.
Partnership was also highlighted by all panelists as essential for companies to succeed in developing human capital within the industry. Such partnership will involve NOCs, IOCs, academia, governments and suppliers all working together, it was generally agreed; companies cannot go it alone.
Proctor stated that the energy industry will be as much a big part of the new economy as it was of the old economy. Exhibitions such as ADIPEC show that the industry is high tech enough and the industry needs to harness what has been witnessed on the exhibition floor to the wider public, he suggested.
However, the biggest challenge facing the industry remains the need to replenish the ageing workforce. In particular, commitment to training will be critical to develop the expertise and technical skills of the new generation as the industry starts to replenish its workforce.
Above all, panelists felt, oil and gas companies must engage with the younger generation to get them to join the industry. Companies must also find ways to retain a skilled workforce. Al-Jarwan from ADMA-OPCO highlighted what the industry has been doing right to attract the young generation: it has transformed into a high tech industry and is far more HSE focused, he pointed out.
The issue of preventing skilled workers leaving the industry was discussed by all panelists. It was agreed that it is vital for companies to have good initiatives in place to retain workers. It is also important for companies to motivate and encourage workers to be innovative. Investment in people, panelists felt, is vital and it is the personal responsibility of companies to look after their workforce.
ADMA-OPCO and Saudi Aramco discussed the success of their companies in increasing the number of local workers. Al-Jarwan stated that ADMA-OPCO achieved 56 per cent Emiratisation in 2010 and aims to increase this to 75 per cent by 2014. Huda Al Ghoson from Saudi Aramco pointed out that of the 56,000 employees within the company in 2010 88 per cent were Saudi nationals.
He put this down to Aramco’s comprehensive recruitment programme. Around 2,500 graduates from Saudi Arabia join Aramco each year; this equals 80 per cent of Aramco’s recruitment needs.

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