Preparing for jobs in oil and gas sector

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What you need to know:

  • The discussion around oil and gas has sometimes been characterised by questions like what courses or academic qualifications will be marketable in oil and gas. What must one study to position themselves better for employment?

Sixteen years since commercially viable oil deposits were discovered in the Albertine Graben region, Uganda has finally set its eyes on the development phase of oil and gas, where project facilities to support the extraction of Uganda’s resources will be constructed over a period of about three years. This phase presents immense opportunities for Ugandans looking for employment.

The discussion around oil and gas has sometimes been characterised by questions like what courses or academic qualifications will be marketable in oil and gas. What must one study to position themselves better for employment?

For the ordinary Ugandan, there are three ways to prepare for employment opportunities in the oil and gas sector. The first, is to find out the knowledge and training required for the job you are aspiring to do and then obtain that. Fortunately, the law requires oil and gas employers to advertise their jobs in the media and these adverts will indicate the knowledge and training requirements for each job.  Remember that oil and gas is a very broad value chain that employs skills from varied disciplines, only a few jobs will require specialised training in petroleum-related studies. Majority of jobs will require knowledge and skills that are cross cutting and transferable from other industries. 

Second, if you have the qualifications, ask yourself whether you have the experience required. This does not necessarily mean you must have worked in the oil and gas sector. You could have worked in a related sector or industry and as such, you understand the career basics or you have been in a similar environment, which implies you can transfer your skills to the oil and gas sector. Try and identify the transferable experience.

There is also some industry knowledge and skills that are essential to the oil and gas industry and are required for all professionals working in the industry irrespective of their domain of work. For example, knowledge of health, safety and environmental (HSE) compliance is basic requirement for all professionals in oil and gas irrespective of their work domain; engineers, finance, human resource, logistics professionals are all required alike to have knowledge of HSE. If you have the means, it would be ideal to attain a diploma or certificate in health and safety, as well as aspects around environmental awareness as part of your preparation to join the sector.

And you can get these certifications from different places. Some people need to go back to the university to attain a degree, others need to go to a technical college. It depends on one’s field and the level of certification required.

With the increasing uptake in Internet use, training is going to get cheaper because it has been digitised. There are local and international platforms people can go to for oil and gas training.  At the global level, there’s a plethora of online training institutions which offer internationally recognised certifications.

The same way we see expatriates come to Uganda and earn a lot of money because they are experts, is the same way we want to see Ugandans go work in oil and gas projects in Nigeria, Mozambique, Venezuela or Canada.

I, therefore, urge my fellow Ugandans to start preparing for the numerous opportunities in the sector today. It is not too late; the production cycle is anticipated to take another 30 years; we haven’t even commenced the first year of production.

Finally, the third way to prepare for participation in the sector is by looking for available vacancies. The law requires oil and gas employers to advertise their jobs in the media, but job seekers should note that media will become increasingly digitised.

They should check both the traditional media and other online sources including regularly visiting the website of Total Energies and its major subcontractors and suppliers as well as the websites of recruitment agencies.

Mr Abdul Kibuuka is the executive director of True North Consult Ltd

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