Training Programs

At a Glance
  • In order to lay the foundation for broader economic diversification in a workforce, it is necessary to create skills and competencies that are not only required by the extractive industries, but are also transferable to other sectors in the economy.
  • Many skills in the mechanical, process, and electrical engineering professions are used primarily during the construction phase, after which demand drops significantly – especially for oil and gas projects.
  • Both government and industry need to adopt a flexible approach to worker training. Cooperation between the two will increase the probability that costly training investment will continue to provide important benefits long after it has met immediate project needs. 
  • Governments can guide companies’ investment in training through fiscal incentives, such as tax deductions on skills training, co-funding of coordinated investments in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system, and facilitating the establishment of industry-wide training facilities.

Skills development in and around extractive industries involves a combination of pre-employment training, on-the-job learning, and upgrading of skills and competencies through continuous professional development and further education. The challenge is to create skills and competencies that are not only required by the extractive industries but are also transferable to other sectors, thus helping to lay a foundation for broader economic diversification in a workforce. This transferability of skills is important to keep in mind as new projects are built, as for many skills in the mechanical, process, and electrical engineering professions used primarily during the construction phase, demand drops significantly thereafter – especially for oil and gas projects.

Both government and industry, therefore, need to adopt a flexible approach to worker training. Governments need to accept that the hiring of foreign employees is often necessary, at higher skill levels, and more generally during the early stages of operation, while local employees are being trained. At the same time, industry needs to play its part in defining and committing to proactively achieving, rising levels of local employment.

This said direct training for employees in the extractive industries is typically organized by the companies themselves, due to the specialized nature of the knowledge and skills needed. In some cases, however, training, particularly at the level of technicians, may be organized in cooperation with local education ministries and authorities. In developing countries, these authorities often lack the necessary resources required to build the appropriate institutions and may, therefore, hesitate to invest if the need is seen as temporary and/or limited to the extractive industry.

Cooperation between industry and government will increase the probability that costly training facilities will continue to exist long after they have met any immediate project needs. This has the added benefit of contributing to a skills pool that can be drawn upon by other extractive industry companies, as well as companies operating outside the industrial sector. Governments can also guide companies’ investment in training through fiscal incentives, such as tax deductions on skills training, co-funding of coordinated investments in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system and facilitating the establishment of industry-wide training facilities.

A notable example is the CEIM (Centro de Entrenamiento Industrial y Minero, the Industrial and Mining Training Centre) in Antofagasta, Chile, which was founded in 1999 by the Escondida Educational Foundation established by the Escondida mining company.[1] It is a non-profit organization whose main mission is to foster excellence in the mining industry. The Center has been reinforced through an alliance between Escondida and 20 other companies and is now operated by local educational authorities.

View footnotes

[1] ICMM, Chile, The Challenge of Mineral Wealth: using resource endowments to foster sustainable development, (March 2007)

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