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Ghana: Skills Shortages in the Oil and Gas Industry – Lessons for Ghana

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  • oil and gas 17thThe Ghana’s Continental Shelf started oil and gas production in 2010 making it one of the youngest oil producing nations in the world. The production from the Jubilee oil fields is expected to create employment opportunities and make significant contributions to the national purse.

    As a new oil producing country, the government places emphasis on local content requirements to ensure that a good number of Ghanaians are employed by the companies. Hence, the recent passage of the Local Content Law for the oil sector makes it mandatory for job creation through the use of local expertise. Already, the oil companies have generated thousands of jobs for Ghanaians. Notwithstanding, the country’s continental shelf’s oil and gas industry is bedevilled with recruitment problems. One major challenge facing the industry world-wide is shortages of skills. This is more severe in Ghana due to the immaturity of the industry and insufficient capacity building in the acute areas. Also, demand for skilled labour exceeds the supply, insufficient skilled applicants, competition for labour among the oil companies and high cost of labour. Again, the industry is relatively young in Ghana and many people have not yet taken the advantages it offered.

    Globally, skills shortages have hit the oil and gas industry for many years now. From the drilling rigs to air-conditioned offices, the industry has witnessed labour difficulties that threaten negatively oil and gas exploration and production around the world. Consequently, delays in executing contracts are witnessed and others contracts are renegotiated. Such delays are also very expensive because renting of the oil rigs normally cost about $ 1.2m daily. So if skilful personnel are not available to handle the production and operations processes, it exerts huge financial burden on the companies. Meanwhile, the hardest hit vacancies in the industry are engineers, drillers and production operation workers who constitute the rig workforce. The reasons for the shortages of skills globally include ageing workforce, negative public perception, fewer student enrolments in petro-technical courses, astronomic demand for energy and lack of experienced candidates.

    The average age of staff in the oil and gas companies is over 45 years. In view of this, most experienced professionals in the Industry will soon be going on retirement. It is estimated that almost half of the current professionals are likely to retire by 2017. What even makes early retirement viable option for them is the attractive retirement packages offer by the companies. The danger in this is that of replacement of the old and extensively experienced staff. To make matters worse, some people have negative perception and do not wish to take up profession there. Others do not have requisite skills and experiences to enter the industry.

    Source: The Chronicle

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