APPEA seminars tackle skills shortage

SEMINARS for school leavers on careers in the petroleum industry being held around Australia this month are addressing skills shortage problems, according to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).
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APPEA says that if five similar seminars scheduled for Brisbane, Sydney and Perth over the next fortnight generate the same level of interest as those held last week in Melbourne and Adelaide, then the industry could find increased numbers of school leavers choosing to enter the upstream oil and gas industry in the near future.

“Judging by the positive feedback from delegates at the Australian Careers Service advisers’ seminars held to date, we may have found a partial solution to the industry’s skill shortage,” APPEA director Don Sanders, said yesterday.

A highlight of seminar presentations were the engaging video clips provided by young, enthusiastic people already working in the petroleum industry, according to Sanders.

“The spontaneous nature of comments provided by a 22 year old petroleum engineer, a young geoscientist, an aspiring accountant, an indigenous administration trainee and a practically minded process operator, served to remind participants of the accessibility and diverse range of career opportunities in the oil and gas industry,” he said.

“Several of the career advisers commented positively on the impact these accounts have had on their impressions of opportunities in the industry.”

Fellow tour presenter WA Process Manufacturing Industry Training Council executive officer Jim Maguire said it had been encouraging to be inundated by Adelaide and Melbourne delegates wanting to know how students could enter post-secondary training that will prepare them for a technical or professional career pathway in the petroleum industry.

“With assistance from the ACS seminar sponsoring companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Santos and Woodside, APPEA has presented a dynamic visual expose of the many and varied career opportunities in the oil and gas industry to around 50 advisers at each session,” Maguire said.

Sanders said the event organisers, the Australian Careers Service operated by Hobsons Guides, were expecting well over 100 careers advisers to attend seminars in Sydney and Brisbane this week with the final seminar to be held in Perth next week.

“We have had a terrific response to the seminars, which are in their third year of operation and provide a series of free events with information for secondary school based career advisers,” he said.

“The objective behind this exciting initiative is to inform potential industry entrants of the range of career opportunities available to them and the newly revised Petroleum Industry Career Guide CD will be a very useful tool in helping young people understand career pathways into this industry.”

However, in Western Australia, the heartland of the nation’s petroleum industry, the number of teenagers studying advanced mathematics has fallen to such low levels that soon there will be a serious shortage of students eligible for university science and technology courses.

The report, by the Federally funded International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics, found just 8.2% cent of WA students took advanced maths in 2004, down from 12.6% in 1995. The number taking intermediate maths fell from 18.8% to 13.4% over the same period.

Centre director Garth Gaudry said advanced maths skills, which includes calculus, were essential for careers that were vital to the State's economy, such as engineering, physical sciences, finance, biosciences and computing.

The proportion of WA students enrolling in advanced maths was equal-lowest of all the states. In NSW, the percentage fell from 18.9% to 15% and rose from 11.4% to 12.6% in Victoria. The share of WA students studying intermediate maths (13.4%) was the lowest of all states and compared with 20.1% in NSW, 24.2% in Victoria and 31.7% in Queensland.