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The right fitby Lionel Mok on May 13, 2014
Donald Madueke looks at the petrochemical industry’s job market and the need for companies to change the way they manage employees
The debate over the availability of skilled workers in the Middle East’s refining & petrochemicals sector is one that still lacks clarity.
Some argue that there is a shortage of qualified professionals in the industry, as the world switches to renewable energy, interest in hydrocarbon engineering is said to be falling as it is replaced by newer disciplines.
But there are others in the region who actually find that there is an excess of skilled labour is in the market. With oil prices and refining margins, especially in this region, remaining particularly attractive, it’s easy to understand why young engineers may be drawn to the industry.
The truth is, however, that both schools of thought are actually right. There is indeed an abundance of recent oil & gas graduates in the region, but this wide pool of fresh graduates does not actually meet the specific needs of the region’s refining and petrochemical industries.
Evidently, there is a disconnect between the skills being developed by universities and the ones needed by the market. But there are still plenty of ways to find the right talent, but this requires knowing where to look and how to keep it when you find it.
“To attract the right talent and you must look in the right segment,” advises Roman Weidlich, director and ME regional leader for Reward practice Dubai at Towers Watson, a global HR consultancy.
In order to fill the skills gap that companies are facing, employers must first understand that there is currently a mismatch between the supply of employees and the specific skills that are in demand.
This has been caused by the discconect between the business cycle and the educational one, especially when considering the lengthy process associated with educating and training an employee.
During the educational years, technology is constantly evolving; therefore academic institutions are unable to adjust their curricula to match the changing trends and skills requirements of the industry.
The main shortages are reported amongst technicians who are able to operate new technologies and experienced workers who are capable of driving new projects.
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