The academia and industry professionals have called on the government and academic institutions to urgently tap into the repository of human capital potentials available in Nigeria by investing in technical education if it hopes to transform the economy.
They observe that in spite of the huge opportunities that the oil and gas sector offers, Nigeria continues to fall short in terms of skilled manpower contribution in that sector, owing to lack of requisite skills and knowledge, which a robust technical education can fix.
Omowumi Iledare, a professor and director, Emerald Energy Institute, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, while speaking at a conference organised by Oil and Gas Trainers’ Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) in Lagos, observes that the oil and gas industry has contributed tremendously to the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.
Iledare discloses that the upward expansion trend in the industry has created demand for a wide array of jobs, ranging from professionals such as geologists and engineers, to skilled blue-collar jobs such as technicians, welders and electricians.
He however maintains that the imperative for the growth and survival of the oil and gas sector in the country should be anchor on the enforcement of the national content mandate, which will require technicians of all shades and grades.
According to him, “to meet this growing demand in the oil and gas industry for skilled technical workers, there is a huge need for the oil companies to patronise technical colleges to meet this demand.”
He advocates that by growing investment in technical education, there will be reduction in capital flight by the decreasing the use of expatriates as technicians, stressing that this will lead to increase in the rate of employment of youth, increase in the economic growth regionally which will in turn increase the wealth of Nigeria within the her border and grow the economy faster.
Olayinka Agboola, an industry expert from Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), is of the view that the nation’s development aspirations can largely be actualised through Academia-Industry collaboration and teaching support.
Such an alliance, in his opinion, will bridge the gaps between the academia and the industry to accelerate the drive towards a sustainable development in the country.
On his part, Femi Akintunde, managing director, Alpha Mead Facilities and Management Services, observes that a unique advantage any country or organisation has over its competitors is a well-developed, skilled, dedicated, committed and motivated human capital.
To him, “In an increasingly global and competitive economy, principally driven by technology, the ability to articulate and execute a robust programme for the practical training and development of oil and gas professional will remain critical success factor for the sector to succeed in Nigeria.”
He therefore calls for a coherent national technical education strategy with framework developed in consultation with industry players to specify the national priorities for development with the appropriate funding commitment.