Oman’s top-100 energy sector stakeholders participated in a workshop today to draft and shortlist the most critical recommendations to be included in a 25-year Energy Master Plan, including education reform, that could help set the Sultanate on a sustainable path as an energy consumer and exporter for the coming decades.
Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) is predicting that peak power demand will about double to 9,133 megawatts (MW) in 2020 from 4,455 MW in 2013, adding significant pressure on the Sultanate’s already tight natural gas resources used to fire local power stations, feed industries such as petrochemicals, and for export in liquefied form.
Under the auspices and guidance of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, the 100 delegates at the workshop agreed that Oman needs to devise a long-term strategy to diversify its energy mix and add alternative power generation sources such as renewable energies, while also enhancing energy efficiency and improving demand-side management both on an individual and industrial level.
“Human capital development is the cornerstone to any organization wanting to survive a competitive industry and grow. The interaction between industry and academia is critical to prepare and develop the workforce required to grow the industry. As the mismatch continues between industry demands and academia, including vocational training institutes, fresh recruiters tend to waste more time getting retrained and skilled, while industry resources are wasted getting what academia is set to achieve,” said His Excellency Salim Al-Aufi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil & Gas, who attended the OEF Workshop 2015.
The Omani hydrocarbons sector, which accounts for roughly half of Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to the country’s Ministry of Finance, is a major employer of Omanis and has brought some of the most sophisticated technologies for oil recovery to the Sultanate.
Given the sector’s significant role in the Sultanate, it will have to be at the forefront of addressing pressing domestic challenges such as the alignment of industry and academia, supporting the development of small and medium enterprises, and fostering innovation and human development as part of a broader strategy to transform the country into a sustainable, knowledge-based economy from a hydrocarbon-based one.
“It is crucial to bolster co-ordination between the relevant bodies — Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Education and Industry – to address alignment, funding and replication of vocational training programs that are proving successful and are critical enablers to raising productivity and longer-term sustainability,” said Raoul Restucci, Managing Director, PDO, who led one of the Workshop’s sessions.
As larger numbers of Oman’s young and growing population are entering the domestic job market, matching workers’ skills with rapidly-evolving labor market requirements in particular has emerged as a top concern among industry and government leaders in recent years.
This is of particular importance in a highly-competitive, globalized world constantly striving to improve productivity, and requires a best-practice approach to education and training as part of a broad ‘skills matching’ strategy.