DUBAI - Seven million jobs have been created in the Gulf over the last decade but only two million of these have gone to Gulf citizens, reinforcing the need for petrochemicals and chemicals producers to create more opportunities for the local workforce, the head of the downstream industry's leading association in the region said.
More than 300 senior HR professionals in the petrochemicals sector will debate the issue of jobs and talent management at the Second Human Capital Convention in Dubai in October, hosted by the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA).
The event follows last year's inaugural gathering, also in Dubai, which assembled top regional and global industry executives to study best practice on recruitment, human resources development, employee retention, and workforce engagement.
"With significant investment earmarked for petrochemical projects in the Gulf, there is a critical need for skilled talent," said Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, secretary general of the GPCA. "The oil and gas industry's movement downstream is a source of job creation for Gulf citizens, but school-leavers and graduates entering the workforce need the right competencies and guidance in order to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by a growing sector."
Demographic pressure has made downstream development a prerequisite in the Gulf, Dr Al Sadoun added, citing IMF and UN studies showing that people under the age of 25 now represent 28 per cent of the total population in Qatar and 49 per cent in Saudi Arabia.
"It is not only a question of jobs but of jobs for Gulf citizens," he said. "The Gulf economies are generating employment but not enough opportunities are going to the local workforce. This shortfall indicates a worrying skills gap and the need for a more effective strategy to align economic growth with the needs of our local population."
Greater collaboration between government and industry stakeholders is needed to improve access to and investment in higher education and vocational training of an international standard, said Dr Al Sadoun.
"Ensuring a steady flow of talent into the workforce is critical for long-term sustainable growth, as is providing a diverse skills pool of engineers, technicians, managers and support staff. October's Human Capital Convention will tackle the critical issues involved in developing existing human resources and attracting fresh talent."
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(Originally published August 2, 2012, in Khaleej Times.)