Technical and vocational skills are very important to oil and gas industry-Anthony Paul

DPI/GINA Guyana, Sunday, June 25, 2017

The oil and gas sector can develop high standard technical and vocational skills which can be transferred to other sectors according to energy expert, Anthony Paul, a Trinidad National, who serves on Guyana’s Local Content Committee.

Anthony Paul, consultant to the Ministry of Natural Resources

In a recent interview with the Department of Information/Government Information Agency (DPI/GINA) Paul pointed out that there exists a myth over the types of jobs available in the oil and gas sector.

While engineers and geologists are necessary skills in the industry, for Guyana, the job opportunities lie in technical and vocational skills. “You ask where the jobs are. Technical and vocational skills are very important,” Paul said.

Guyana is preparing for oil production sometime in 2020 after significant oil find in 2015.

Paul pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago “did well” at developing those skills with apprentice programmes in its oil and gas industry. “There are many more as welders, fabricators, mechanics, people doing diesel machine.” “You have the cornel of that in the schools; they may be distressed at the moment but do you rescue that culture and use it to build those areas?” Paul asked, while noting that, that it is a decision for the government to make.

Learning welding at the Guyana Technical Institute

More importantly, these skills are transferrable.

In Trinidad’s case, Paul noted that the twin island state’s oil and gas sector only employ about four percent of the workforce but more than 20 per cent of T&T’s workforce is trained in some technical or vocational skill.

“How do you think they got that skill because the oil industry needed the skills and invested in the schools? If you train 100 technicians and the industry hires 10, 90 are available for elsewhere,” Paul illustrated.

Additionally, these skills when transferred can also raise the standard of the sectors they will be used in. “If you learn that in oil and gas you learn that at a high standard and therefore when you transfer it you elevate the other sectors,” Paul explained.

However Paul cautioned that developing technical and vocational skills must not be done at the neglect of high end skills. “The other high end skills are of value too and you want to focus on those as well but we tend to focus on the operation(of) technical skills,” he said.

If we fail to develop the high end skills we end up using the same foreigners that we had to bring into the country to do the job, Paul explained.

Students of GTI learning technical and vocational skills

The government has to be strategic in how it develops skills for the industry Paul cautioned. Paul used Ghana as an example of how this did not work out, “A lot of families spend money on children doing studies who are unemployed now.”

Over the last two years Paul worked as an advisor to the Ghanaian government developing and putting regulatory systems in place for their Ministry of Petroleum.

“Guyana has to be careful about what training you spend your money on”, Paul said. The government is cognisant of this and has been making provisions for developing skills both technical and high end.

The Ministry of Natural Resources through the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has committed $100M over the next three years to boost UG’s training capacity for the oil and gas industry.

Additionally, the Ministry has partnered with the Mexican Petroleum Institute. That partnership includes scholarships from the Institute particularly in technical and vocational skills.  There are also plans for the establishment of a local Petroleum Scientific Institute by 2020.

Anthony Paul is currently a consultant to the Ministry of Natural Resources on the development of a Local Content Policy for Guyana’s oil and gas sector.

By: Tiffny Rhodius