| Danial Norjidi |
THE Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday called for an audit on employment figures across all sectors of the oil and gas industry, announced a target of 3,000 jobs to be filled by locals in 2015, asserted the need for employers to provide meaningful employment and reasonable remuneration packages and urged employees to become role models.
Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar was delivering a speech at the opening ceremony of the Oil and Gas Sector Job Fair 2014 at the Bridex International Convention Centre.
The minister said, “As a further step in our efforts to create more opportunities for the employment of our locals, an audit across all sectors within the industry must be carried out in order to confirm the employment-related figures submitted by the industry and to identify areas where further improvement could be made.
“We also want to know, for example, how many of those who acquired employment since 2012 are still working in the industry. We are also interested to find out more about their professional plans both in terms of careers and career development,” he continued. “Such audit programmes would also help us identify problems that employers and potential employers may be facing and how these could be effectively overcome.”
He shared that the Energy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO), as part of its own auditing measures, launched an easy-to-use online local recruitment reporting system for up-to-date monitoring of locals recently recruited in the industry.
“The system enables us to obtain personal data such as email addresses and phone numbers, which in turn would allow us to verify directly with the employees their current employment status,” he explained.
“We have also collaborated with Employees Trust Fund (TAP) to verify local recruitments as reported in the last two cycles of Local Business Development reporting,” he said. “However, the number from TAP is normally higher than those reported to the EDPMO, which is something that we are keen to understand further.”
The third measure he mentioned was that of conducting site visits, which allows the EDPMO to not only meet and obtain information from the employees themselves, but also discuss their career development with the employers.
Elaborating on this point with the Borneo Bulletin, the minister said, “For example, a company claims that they have employed 10 or 20 people. We would like to see how they develop these people. Have they been developing them for six months or a year? We would like to go through this process. This is not to be done in an offensive or hostile way. We want to work together with the industry so that there are sustainable jobs out there.”
Meanwhile, the minister asserted that local employees must strive to become role models. “Loyalty, honesty, integrity, focus and hard work are core values that will build trust of the management and contribute indirectly to the employment of other locals.
“From the feedback I have received, these are some of the areas that our locals need to work harder and improve on.”
He also touched on the topic of wages.
“It is equally important for companies to provide their employees with meaningful employment in terms of, among others, reasonable remuneration packages,” he affirmed.
“I am pleased to note that in contracts awarded by the Brunei Shell Joint Venture companies, the requirement to provide reasonable wages is now embedded in contracts awarded since November 2013.
“We must continue to create a conducive working environment especially for those who are new to the industry and entering the lower salary groups.”
It is a must, he said, for every employee to be given ample opportunities to improve through systematic training programmes tailored to his or her employment and future progression needs. They must also be made fully aware from the very beginning of the very strict need to observe good governance and business integrity.
The minister recounted how in 2012 big contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded to companies without much return in terms of local content, such as the employment and training of locals.
“Alhamdulillah, through the cooperation of various parties we were able to look at the issues and found ways and means to overcome them,” he said.
“Today, we are seeing positive changes in mindsets on the employability of our locals.”
This, he shared, may be due to the introduction of terms in contracts that impose contractual targets on the contractors in the number of locals to be employed during the life of those contracts. In some cases, the realisations came from the companies themselves, especially with regards to the benefits of employing and providing training to locals.
“Whichever way, we should be thankful to the companies. It is they who shoulder the responsibility of providing opportunities to the locals and provide further training to turn them into worthy employees.
“Our oil and gas industry is still very much industry-driven and the same goes in the areas of local content, including the provision of training and so on,” he continued. “It is you, the industry that really knows what is needed to remain strong and run as efficiently and smoothly as possible.”
He noted the important contributions of the government, such as fiscal incentives and human resource development schemes.
He also lauded the hard work and dedication of the various parties both from the government and companies in the oil and gas sector in laying the foundations of the training programmes under the Energy Industry Competency Framework (EICF).
The minister then went on to share some EICF achievements.
Earlier this month, the first 244 graduates of ISQ (Industrial Skill Qualification) for welders, scaffolders, markers/fitters and riggers courses were received. All 244 graduates are now working with nine different companies across the oil and gas industry.
In addition, for the first time Brunei has produced 24 female welders with 6G/3G programmes.
Currently, there are 741 students training under the EICF’s ISQ and HNTec programmes and 366 of them have been given conditional offers of employment by several companies, and the rest will have a chance to secure their own offers at the ongoing Job Fair.
He also touched on the Brunei Maritime Academy, for which the first enrolment took place in April this year. There are now 233 students at the academy, 151 of whom have obtained conditional offers of employment.
“Insya Allah, the rest will receive theirs subject to passing medical check-up and basic safety training.”
Opportunities are also provided for unemployed HND graduates under the National Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme (NEGAS), which rolled out in July this year with 18 graduates in the first intake, with another 33 expected by the end of the year.
The minister also spoke on targets for the number of locals to be newly employed by the industry. The targets of 1,000 in 2012 and 1,600 in 2013 were surpassed by the achievement of 1,302 and 2,610 new employees respectively. This year’s target is for 3,000 jobs to be filled by locals. To date, 2,473 jobs have been secured.
“With just a little more than a month to go before the end of the year, we remain cautiously optimistic that the target can be achieved,” he said. “During this Job Fair alone, more than 2,000 vacancies are being offered and, Insya Allah, with the support of everyone, reaching the target of 3,000 is still achievable.”
It was on this point that he took the opportunity to reveal the EDPMO’s employment target for next year. “For 2015, the Energy Department will again maintain the target of employing 3,000 locals in the oil and gas sector.
“We should not be distracted by the numbers alone,” he said. “It is important that the target represents real quality jobs and secured life-long career paths for the holders.”