Energy Education, Training and Professional Development for Abu Dhabi
01 Jun 09:10 AMSector : Education Country : UAE
By Maria Blakley
The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 (ADV 2030) and other government policies provide a clear road map for the Emirate to embrace the new wave of energy revolution, which is likely to result in some valuable and interesting job opportunities for locals. The pillars of the ADV 2030 recognizes the need to redress the balance of the expatriate and local workforce. Traditionally, in the energy sector this would mean in oil and gas, but the energy mix is changing in Abu Dhabi as alternative sources are researched and developed.
In 2012, Dr. Abdullah Amer Al Bishr, the head of the strategy, planning and policy at Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council (ADTC), commented that about 298,000 jobs will be created for UAE citizens in seven industries including energy.
In the oil and gas sector, the path for nationals is clear. In 2010, the ADNOC deputy director for human resources and administration, said the company had set a target of increasing its percentage of Emirati employees to 75 percent by 2014 from its present level of just over 50 percent. New Emirati employees are recruited mainly from the ADNOC Technical Institute and the Petroleum Institute. Respectively, these are a vocational college and a specialized university that ADNOC founded with industry and academic partners to meet its future requirements for technical staff.
Abu Dhabi is set to play a pivotal role in the UAE’s National Strategy for Green Growth announced on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in 2013. The green growth road map includes four key areas of focus including policy development, data management, capacity development and implementation of pilot projects in the area of green growth. Apart from having the financial capacity needed for the development of the renewable energy sources themselves, Abu Dhabi has the research and scientific database for all topics related to sustainable development in relation to energy via Masdar and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). All of which will create further job opportunities but a need for education and training.
Shams 1 is great example of the growth in alternative energy and the creation of employment for Emirati nationals. Recently inaugurated, Shams 1 is the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, where at least 30 percent of the workforce will be Emirati. At the inauguration H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “Expanding our leadership into renewable sources of power demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to maintaining its position as a major provider of energy…The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major milestone in our country’s economic diversification and a step toward long-term energy security.”
He went on to say: “We are proud of the young Emiratis that worked on this project. The expertise they gained, working closely with international companies and building a project of such scale, is the type of human capital development that will enable our country to secure long-term energy leadership.”
In the nuclear energy sector, it is expected that the UAE will require over 2,000 employees by 2020 to fill the positions within the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s commercial, operational and supporting areas. To achieve this goal, the authority has launched a number of scholarship programs ranging from Higher Diplomas to Bachelor programs and Masters programs in partnership with a number of top local and international education and training institutions.
Increasing Energy Efficiency
The UAE also has the potential to turn any concerns about security of supply and inefficient use of energy to its advantage by becoming a flagship for energy efficiency and energy management in the Middle East. The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy seeks to ensure that the Emirate’s growing economy will have sustainable energy supply while also preserving the environment. The authority is developing alternative and renewable energy sources for the Emirate, while increasing energy efficiency to reduce demand. As energy management takes center stage for the entities of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, energy efficiency is likely to become a fulfilling and worthwhile career choice for nationals.
As the energy mix comes into play in Abu Dhabi, education and training requirements will organically grow alongside it from college and university level, through short term training courses and on to professional recognition and certification.
Historically the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) system for accreditation is used in nearly all of the universities in UAE, including the PI. Once in employment in-house graduate training is provided by the ADNOC group with some external training provision, most of which is from the United States and exam based. All of this contributes to professional development and a path to becoming professionally recognised one-day. Furthermore, it’s possible that the same roots will be laid down for those heading on a path to environmentalism or science in relation to alternative energy.
There is also likely to be a growth in short-term, industry ready courses to empower the Emirati youth with the skills to handle real life job challenges once in employment. The organizers of Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (GETEX) have just launched a new education exhibition “Technical, Occupational & Further Education” (TOFE), in Abu Dhabi, which focuses exclusively on occupational training and demonstrates the market for this.
The requirement for vocational skills and education, not only in energy, has previously given way to an influx of international training and education companies to meet short-term occupational course needs. The Energy Institute (EI) can be found among many of them in the Dubai Knowledge Village, a free zone dedicated to the education and training sector where training companies sit among universities such as the University of Wollongong, the American University in Dubai and Middlesex University, and it is plain to see that all are operating in the market for building the capability of nationals as well as expats.
The Energy Institute is an accrediting body recognising energy education internationally and will continue to visit companies, training centers, universities and colleges – meeting trainers and tutors to see how the EI can play a part in our capacity as a resource for ensuring that education and an evolving energy industry are aligned.
The Energy Institute Middle East will support both the expat workforce who come to UAE with their education and professional experience, those who seek further training and development and CPD or a university education. Moreover, the EI can also help to provide a benchmark for education and professionalism for nationals, as the energy sector continues to diversify in line with government policy and economic opportunity.
The Energy Institute Middle East supports professionals looking at the UK standards and routes to professional membership and chartered status. We look forward to seeing more awards for energy professionals working in alternative energy, following the recent achievement of a Chartered Petroleum Engineer within ADCO, and hope that we will be presenting the first Chartered Environmentalist or Chartered Scientist award before very long.