Nigeria has manpower shortage in oil sector – OGTAN

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja 

There are jobs in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector but the country lacks competent manpower to fill up these positions, the Oil and Gas Trainers’ Association of Nigeria has said.

According to OGTAN, the dearth of indigenous manpower is the major reason why oil companies bring in experts from abroad to take up jobs that could have been handled by Nigerians.

The President of OGTAN, who doubles as the Managing Director, Danvic Petroleum International, Dr. Mayowa Afe, disclosed this to our correspondent at the headquarters of the Petroleum Development Training Fund in Abuja.

He said, “There is a gap between the university and the industry. The industry requires a minimum standard for graduates and if the university graduate doesn’t meet that requirement, he cannot be engaged in the sector. There are jobs in the oil and gas industry but there are very few competent Nigerians because there is an existing gap.

“This gap is what we want to try and bridge by providing quality training to university lecturers, as some of them have not been trained for years while technology is evolving on a fast pace. These people are the ones training those who come out from the universities to seek for employment in the oil and gas industry.”

Afe added, “This is why many oil companies are involved in training and retraining of workers, which was not so in the past. For in the 1960s, when you come out of the university, you can become useful immediately you join the oil and gas industry. But now, you have to train and retrain employees, at times for up to three or four years before they can become useful in the employment.

“This is a worry for us and we want to harmonise all our strategic partners to ensure that we give out adequate support to the universities to provide the best of training to our students so that when they graduate, they will be excellent and fit for purpose graduates.”

When asked to state the effects of the dearth of manpower on the industry, the OGTAN president said, “Of course, the lack of adequate manpower has a huge effect on the sector. Companies like Exxon Mobil and Shell are here to do business and not to start training Nigerians.

“So, if you don’t get Nigerians to be competent enough to fit into what they want, they will go out to bring in people that we refer to as experts. And one expert that you bring into Nigeria can take the employment of about 10 people because you must provide the best for him or her. This causes capital flight, which has to be stopped.”

According to Afe, OGTAN is the platform for all trainers in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, adding that the association has about 14 professional groups across the value chain in the industry, from downstream to midstream and upstream.

“Each of those groups regulates the standard of training and ensures that people get the maximum benefit for any training they attend, as well as get the required certification. They also link Nigeria with other training organisations across the globe so that we can attain international standard,” he said.

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