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Getting our graduate youths to work : The oil and gas industry template


THIS will bridge the gap between the academic knowledge of the graduate and the much sought after industry work place mannerism, etiquette, understanding of processes and procedures. Skills, which would ordinarily only come with work experience within an oil and gas company.

The fact of the matter is that the Nigerian graduates are intellectually competent. Despite the lackluster, ill equipped and badly run universities, highly competent graduates are churned out in high numbers. Evidence of this is the success and achievement levels of Nigerian graduates who thrive and exceed their peers in Post graduate education overseas.

Despite high academic achievement, the missing ingredient from our youth graduate, which is key to employment by the oil and gas companies, is the work experience. Drilling down into “work experience”, what is of most importance to the hiring companies, is familiarity with the industry ethics.

The reason why oil and gas companies bring in expatriates to man their projects in Nigeria is not solely due to their technical competency, but also due to their industry ethics. The evidence of having worked in varying projects across the world is proof that the individual is knowledgeable in the industry’s code of conduct, business ethics, procedures, processes, safety standards etc. While this is on a macro level, on a micro level, such processes and standards are company specific, as individual companies have their specific modus operandi.

This is particularly the case with multinational companies with huge operations across the world. The aim of such standards is unification of its global operation, where a worker in for instance, Brazil can easily come to work in a project in Scotland with a very short learning curve. This is the reason why a company such as Chevron will prefer to hire a worker that has previous chevron experience, as he or she would know the “chevron way”.

As a result of this trend among the oil and gas companies, a recommendation for our government in aiding the hiring of our graduate youths, is for each NNPC Joint venture, such as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU), under their Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), to set up training programs under their JV.

The aim of these programs will be to furnish these youth graduates with the skillsets required to work successfully within their joint venture companies. The curriculum would focus on team building initiatives, company policies, procedures and job skills specifically catered to the requirements of the companies. This would enable each student’s easy assimilation into these companies, upon completion of the training and orientation.

The training would be certified, thereby making each graduate more marketable to companies in the industry as a whole. A key advantage of the JV initiated training program is the Joint Ventures knowledge of their upcoming projects, manpower specific requirements and the skills and disciplines needed for these projects. This would ensure that the training programs are fit for purpose and prepares its students for the upcoming projects.

With all this said, what is of most importance is for the Nigerian Petroleum industry to be stimulated. This is what will spur the multiplier effect that would lead to more industry activities, spending on projects and the resultant need for industry personnel; to accommodate our graduate youths.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), looming in the air for years without passage, has created the Achilles heel to any industry’s development; uncertainty.

The uncertainty of the fiscal regime, and petroleum laws that will be in place, has prevented spending of billions of dollars on new projects in Nigeria, by the International Oil Companies (IOC’s).

Furthermore, although Nigeria unfortunately missed out on a flurry of industry activities during the era of $100 oil, it must be more pragmatic now with a lower price for oil, and a glut of the commodity on the world market.

What is needed is an efficient PIB that secures an appropriate amount of economic rent for the Nigerian government, but yet allows operators to continue a profitable business, particularly in riskier ventures such as deep offshore exploration, new frontier basin exploration and non-associated gas development. Such an environment will increase oil companies’ confidence in operating in Nigeria amidst a global downturn in global spending.

Government policy is required to stir our industry further down the petroleum value chain, stimulating activity in refining and petrochemicals; to create further value from our oil, in a low priced market. Government policies that streamlines the process of licensing and approval of Modular refineries, blending plants, and other downstream capital projects and promoting availability of feedstock for these projects is invaluable. These projects would create added value, increased revenue, sector growth, and much needed job opportunities for our graduate youths.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that Nigeria needs to make active strides to develop its ailing real sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture to increase its growth and create jobs for its fast growing youth population. However, in the current state where the petroleum industry is the mainstay of the economy, and unemployment of the youth is at staggering levels, the government must step in with the right policies to guide the industry down the right path, and in parallel, ensure that qualified youths can gain employment in a more efficiently run industry amidst current global challenges.

Gbubemi Peter Agbowu is a Contracts Advisor in Saudi Aramco and a promoter of Star Delta Energy Services. He can be reached via email: His social media handle is as follows: twitter: @GPAStarDelta

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