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COVID-19: Oil workers urged to develop digital skills

UDOM Inoyo,  a former Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil, says oil workers in Nigeria should re-invent themselves to provide practical solutions to cushion the impact of COVID-19 realities on the nation’s oil and energy sector.

“The number of underemployed is much higher and it is going to get worse with those hitherto employed likely to join the labour market,” Inoyo said at the 6th triennial national delegates conference of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) held in Abuja on Thursday.

“What is needed at this time is understanding and support from bodies like PENGASSAN, given that your members must reinvent and hone other skills to ensure they can fit into the new ways business will operate going forward. Every support counts towards recovery. Nothing should, therefore, be done to increase the misery of companies.”

The conference titled, “The future of work Post COVID-19 pandemic and energy transition” was focused on the adoption of post-recovery strategies to enable key players in the Nigerian oil and energy sector respond to the challenges of a pandemic attack at the scale of COVID-19.

Udom quoted from a Huawei report that highlighted seven major technologies that would reshape the oil business which include big data and analytics, Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT and edge computing, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, AI and machine learning, robotics and drones, 5G networks and collaboration tools.

He urged members of PENGASSAN  to be ready when these tools are fully deployed or their relevance in the sector will fade.

“I foresee that the traditional role of the union will take a natural decline, and if you must stay relevant, you need to start refocusing on getting your members, including personnel likely to be on-boarded through a virtual hiring process and working outside the traditional office setting to continue to appreciate your offerings,” he said.

Nigeria, which is currently Africa’s largest economy is bound for the second recession in four years after registering the second consecutive quarter of negative growth barely two years after its last recession was in 2016.

Udom queried PENGASSAN’s method of response to the disruption of the oil industry by the pandemic.

“For instance, we know that most offices may not be fully reopened for some time, how is the union assessing this situation and advancing engagements aimed at bringing terms and conditions of employment to be in conformity with current and evolving business realities?

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“Why should companies continue to bear costs originally in place for a physical work arrangement? This should be a subject of conversation,” he said.

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