UG looking at partnerships to serve oil & gas industry


By Bibi Khatoon

The University of Guyana (UG) will be pursuing partnerships with other regional educational institutions to provide professionals for the emerging Oil and Gas Industry.

On Thursday (October 05, 2017), ExxonMobil announced its fifth large oil find and experts from across the world have been urging local stakeholders to ensure that persons are educated in related fields to benefit from the opportunities that come with such an important industry.

During an interview with News Room recently, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Ivelaw Griffith outlined several preparations that are underway to produce trained individuals to manage the natural resource. He said that a Needs and Capability Assessment was commissioned to determine what courses the University offers and what needs to be introduced.

“Some of what is relevant to Oil and Gas is taught in the faculty of Natural Sciences, some of it is in Earth and Environmental Sciences. I need to know what we have but what are the gaps. We have equipment shortage in some of our faculties, we have staff shortage…” he said.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Ivelaw Griffith

He noted that access to, and payment of Lecturers are hindrances to making certain moves, but discussions have begun with a number of Universities abroad to offer joined courses in certain areas. He mentioned the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of Alberta. Some of the engagements with other universities will also include opportunities to “retool” lecturers.

The administration is also looking to increase the courses offered online, reducing the need for resident lecturers since the majority of the skills needed are located abroad.

However, before making a final decision on its courses, the UG Administration will be hosting a stakeholders meeting with Oil and Gas businesses and associations and the Ministry of Natural Resources next month, to understand what the needs of the sector are.

“I want to be mindful of advice we’ve been getting from universities and consultants— don’t go producing because you may be producing and overproducing and then you’ll have graduates with degrees who can’t find a job. So we want to be cautious and understand the needs of the industry and we also want to understand where we might be able to fill those needs in partnerships” with local stakeholders, Professor Griffith explained.

He also pointed out that the industry will open opportunities for persons in the legal, communications and other fraternities.

American Attorney-at-law, Vicky McPherson was among personnel who urged the Government to hire lawyers and accountants who are experts in the oil and gas sector to safeguard profits. Trinidad and Tobago energy expert and University of the West Indies Professor, Andrew Jupiter, in an article carried by a local online agency, had even urged Guyana to use its oil and natural gas resources as a bargaining chip to secure higher quality education and technologies.

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