Oman's oil stakeholders push for educational reform to develop industry
The delegates at the workshop agreed that Oman needs to devise a long-term strategy to diversify its energy mix while adding alternative renewable power generation sources. They also plan to enhance energy efficiency and improve demand-side management both on individual and industrial levels.
To do that, Oman needs to invest in modernizing its education infrastructure.
"Human capital development is the cornerstone to any organization wanting to survive a competitive industry and grow,” Salim Al-Aufi, of Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas, said at the meeting. “The interaction between industry and academia is critical to prepare and develop the workforce required to grow the industry.”
Al-Aufi said there continues to be a mismatch between industry demands and academia.
Energy stakeholders also believe that education reform could help set Oman on a sustainable path as an energy consumer and exporter for the coming decades.
The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) predicts that peak power demand will double from the current 4,455 megawatts (MW) to 9,133 MW by 2020. That will put significant pressure on Oman's already tight natural gas resources. Those important gas resources support Oman’s local power stations and feed the nation’s industries.
In addition, the Omani hydrocarbons sector accounts for around half of Oman's gross domestic product (GDP) and is a major employer of Omanis. Given the sector's significant role in the Sultanate, it will have to be a chief priority in order to address 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, which is 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 coordination between the relevant bodies 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," Raoul Restucci, a workshop session leader, said.