Lessons Learned in Developing Human Capital for the Oil and Gas Industry
The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital initiative has been implemented at Satbayev University in Kazakhstan for the past 2 years. This paper assesses the effectiveness of project components, such as industry guest lectures, summer internships, and program improvement, and provides lessons learned for human resources development.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Human Capital initiative has been implemented at Satbayev University (SU) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the past 2 years. Participating in this effort are Chevron, Eni, Shell, and the Colorado School of Mines. This paper assesses the effectiveness of project components, such as industry guest lectures, summer internships, and program improvement, and provides lessons learned for human resources development.
This paper uses a qualitative research method in which data are collected through focus group interviews. Key participants of the study include students enrolled in the WEF program and faculty members. Moreover, the interviewing process involves students who are not part of the WEF program as a control group to measure progress made with additional benefits.
The article explains major challenges of talent development in higher-education institutions. It has been determined that the local specifics, especially students’ socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, play an important role in future academic success. For example, students encountered difficulties with understanding course materials and industry guest lectures, which is attributed to English language barriers. Yet, select students have had strong success in the upper-intermediate and above levels. Looking at students’ internships revealed that summer experience has greatly strengthened their practical knowledge and skills; opened eyes to industry settings; and, more importantly, influenced better planning of career paths. Students reported internships not only provided an industry outlook but also perspectives of continuing graduate studies. It is noted that workforce development requires sufficient faculty development in a case of scarce human resources. The competent and adequate faculty, especially in petroleum engineering, is a prominent problem in most developing oil and gas countries. This issue was articulated among stakeholders, and the project results demonstrate the successful case of company support to raise professional competencies of SU faculty.
This paper covers the human capital development challenges within the WEF project framework and, based on scientific evidence, further elucidates the project-specific tools to propagate similar initiatives around the world. Kazakhstan’s experience, as a former state in the Soviet Union, brings useful suggestions to transform higher-education talent development to match the industrywide standards. The paper highlights that an effective industry/academia collaboration develops from shared visions, values, and goals.