Training The Energy Industry Work Force In Africa

Training The Energy Industry Work Force In Africa

There will be a labor shortage in the energy industry over the next few years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which has been tracking trends, according to its International Energy Outlook.

Attracted by average annual salaries that exceed $80,000, young professionals are catching on, and flocking to energy sector fields, the EIA reports.

One U.S.-based company that offers training for the energy industry is ready.

Based in Plainsboro, New Jersey, The Oxford Princeton Programme (TOPP) is hoping to better educate South African professionals in the oil and gas industry in 2014.

The company has offered training for the energy sector for the past several years, but new courses will soon be available in Africa for anyone interested in the field, said Jobert Abueva, vice president of global sales and marketing for TOPP.

“The public courses, which take place in Cape Town, are open to professionals in the oil and gas industry as well as those looking to enter it,” Abueva told AFKinsider.

New courses include Overview of Physical Crude Oil Trading and Operations, Fundamentals of Petroleum Refining, and Oil Trading Orientation.

The Oxford Princeton Programme offers a variety of web-based training courses which are available 24/7 via the Internet. Many South Africa-based professionals have taken advantage of this library which covers energy topics such as oil, gas, renewables, petrochemicals, and much more, Abueva said. In addition, South Africa-based energy companies have asked for courses to be brought in-house.

Companies sometimes prefer the in-house option when they have a team of managers or new hires that they would like to train simultaneously with an active energy industry expert as guide, Abueva said.

Some clients have earned advanced diplomas and certificates in areas such as trading derivatives, hedging and risk management, offered in the U.K. as well as other energy hubs including Singapore, Houston and Calgary, Abueva said.

The company chose to offer the courses in South Africa because it saw a need for this kind of education there.

“The robust oil and gas industry and the presence of several market participants, whether they are international and national oil companies, independents, or other entities which support the energy sector, make Cape Town a very desirable destination, not just for South Africa-based personnel, but for others as well in the region and elsewhere,” Abueva said.

Some of the challenges of doing business in South Africa include slow shipping — the timely arrival of materials such as e-manuals and collateral items required at each training session.

“An extended lead time is required to account for any potential customs or logistical issues,” he said.

While challenges exist, there are benefits as well.

There are plenty of choices and easy access for training venues — primarily hotels. Also, there are direct flights for instructors who are based in the U.K. and U.S.

Abueva said he feels the current economic climate in South Africa is solid and continues to show promise, which will be reflected in the energy industry.

“We have seen year-on-year growth in course attendance,” Abueva said. “We know that the energy business in South Africa continues to grow with the increase in exploration and production, shipping and refining activity.”

Companies will always have the upper hand when conducting business in South Africa if they understand the needs of the local economy, build strong ties to local managers, and have a solid track record of delivering quality goods and services, Abueva said.

Avinash Ragoobeer works in the value chain optimization department at Chevron’s head office in Cape Town.

He took a TOPP course on crude oil orientation that helped him gain a better understanding of global industry standards and practices.

The course gave him better insight on product knowledge, logistical and market features that pertain to trading decisions that go along with sourcing and manufacturing requirements, Ragoobeer told AFKInsider.

“In my opinion, seeing that the political climate is strongly turning its focus on black economic empowerment companies, I believe it is those smaller up-and-coming companies that could benefit from the global knowledge…to enable them to benchmark themselves on global standards and practices and give them better prospects to trade both locally and internationally,” Ragoobeer said.

Karen Carr is a representative with MRB Public Relations, a firm specializing in web, channel building, and editorial analysis.

TOPP has steadily increased the business courses offered in South Africa to better meet the demand and training needs of South African energy and business professionals, Carr said.

“TOPP also expanded its presence in South Africa to accommodate many of the South African executives who were traveling to other countries to attend courses,” Carr said.