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Life after oil

Life after oil

Gulf countries are struggling with how to gird their economies for the day when their fossil fuels run out.


January 27, 2010 10:41 by

Norway is now home to companies that specialize in this kind of extraction. Several countries appear to be using a similar model to ensure their nationals have specific skill sets. “There’s a huge young population coming into the work force at the moment and the younger generation is really more forward-looking,” an economist for the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan at Standard Chartered Bank, Shady Shaher, said.

Shaher contrasted today’s graduates with those in the past who often looked for employment in the government. He said there’s immense pressure on the governments to implement these training programs in time for the young populations entering the work force to ensure there isn’t a lost generation of workers.

“Will there be a lost population or not? That really depends on how fast the governments are able to push through these programs,” he said, citing the example of Saudi Arabia, which mandated that ExxonMobil establish a training program for nationals as part of its most recent contract.

In Doha, Shell recently established a $30 million fund for nationals who want to study petrochemical sciences. Abu Dhabi’s investment company, Mubadala, hires young locals into a six-month program in which they study for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, a widely recognized certification for people in finance. After, they are eligible for jobs.

Although young Arabs have more education and training opportunities, Shaher, who finished college nine years ago, said he has seen a dramatic change in the job market for nationals in spite of nationalization programs aimed at encouraging firms to hire locals.

“The job market landscape is becoming more challenging as the economies in the region mature,” he said, noting that though such development is positive in the long run, it’s nevertheless a challenge for today’s youth.

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