OTC: Internships key to staffing energy industry

Oil and gas companies need to implement more internship programs to attract younger generations of workers to the industry, according to Abe Palaz, Halliburton director of education and research and development partnership.

Leena Koottungal
Survey Editor/News Writer

HOUSTON, May 9 -- Oil and gas companies need to implement more internship programs to attract younger generations of workers to the industry, according to Abe Palaz, Halliburton director of education and research and development partnership. Palaz spoke May 7 during a topical luncheon at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

"You can lecture and give money to a kid, but unless you show them something [during an internship], it does not click [with them]," Palaz said.

Internships link companies to potential talented workers while providing students with hands-on training from professionals in the field. It is the most important and effective method in solving the staffing strategy problem in the industry, according to Palaz.

The global talent supply dilemma is a quality vs. quantity issue, he said. In the West, the number of young people interested in the energy industry has been declining.

Students in K-12 grade levels are not being sufficiently educated about petroleum, Palaz continued, and young people are less interested in math and science than in the past. Palaz stressed the importance of the energy industry's role in getting involved with teachers and faculty to educate students about petroleum.

Awarding college scholarships in science and engineering studies is also important. This will ensure that universities attract the brightest students. Encouraging these students to become faculty or educators will also aid in solving the problem.

Universities and schools are looking for guidance from the industry. Oil and gas companies must get involved early on in the education process to improve quality and quantity, he concluded.

Contact Leena Koottungal at leenak@ogjonline.com.

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