A serious 'talent gap':the post-oil economy and the deployment of nationals in the Gulf
Never before have national oil companies (NOCs) in the Middle East faced such a range of challenges as they seek to increase their output.
The regional oil and gas companies are being asked by governments to reduce their heavy dependence on expatriates, yet they find themselves faced with a shortfall in qualified nationals with which to replace them, said an expert.
“There are a number of solutions out there, some which need to be taken by the companies themselves, and some by governments. When there is a combined effort from the private and public sector, the talent crisis would be on its way to being solved,” added Kenneth McKellar, partner in charge of the Energy and Resources industry at Deloitte Middle East, a provider audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services.
McKellar was speaking with reference to the newly released Deloitte Middle East whitepaper “Deployment of nationals in a post-oil economy”, which says that managing to recruit, retain and develop the most diverse range of talent available are some of the challenges faced in the region.
The Mena region accounted for around 50 per cent of the world’s global oil reserves and around 40 per cent of the global natural gas reserves in 2013, which makes the region a key player in the oil and gas industry worldwide.
However, the regional oil and gas industry is facing the challenge of an ageing, soon-to-retire workforce, an underweight qualified junior talent pool, and nationalisation pressures from governments to reduce reliance on expatriates, the paper said.
Never before have national oil companies (NOCs) in the Middle East faced such a range of challenges as they seek to increase their output, efficiency and contribution from a corporate as well as a country standpoint, the whitepaper noted.
According to Deloitte, to address these challenges, companies can implement a number of strategies or programmes designed to yield short to medium term results. These are:
• Graduate programmes: aimed at national undergraduate students offering the chance to gain diverse experience through systematic job rotations in different sectors within oil and gas, in upstream, midstream and downstream.
• Women’s integration programmes: aimed at taking advantage of an underexploited female talent pool by finding creative ways to attract women to the oil and gas industry and developing their skills.
• Coaching programmes for leaders: aimed at developing technical, commercial, and general leadership capabilities of NOC executives to help them navigate their companies through the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the oil and gas industry.
• Partnering with universities: NOCs are partnering with and/or sponsoring local and regional universities to receive a steady stream of qualified national graduates.
“It is worth noting that women’s roles and influence in Middle Eastern national oil companies are increasing, not only out of necessity but out of desire. This is a sign that, like in other parts of the world, the Middle East is realizing the corporate and institutional benefits of female leadership, which have been clearly proven,” said McKellar.
To target a more sustainable and nationwide solution, there is a need to build an ecosystem that would enable the deployment of national graduates in the oil and gas industry. Such an ecosystem could include:
• Revising the education system in high schools and universities in an effort to meet society’s demand in the MENA region and to support countries’ economic visions.
• Funding scientific research and development initiatives to spur innovation.
• Developing human resources initiatives that cater to the industry’s increasingly critical requirements.
“Results will not be apparent in a short timeframe – designing, recruiting for and executing a graduate programme, for example, takes up to 36 months for an organization to start measuring its impact,” said McKellar.
“However, by taking the lead on this issue oil and gas companies are in a position to create impact and could even set the ground for new human capital and talent management practices across the region,” he added.
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