Yisel Varela
CEO
Access to Energy
Alejandra Bueno,
Alejandra Bueno
Strategic Ally in Houston
Access to Energy
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View from the Top

No Need to Reinvent the Human Talent Wheel

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 07:29

Q: What public or private initiatives will have the most impact on reducing the skills gap in the oil and gas industry?

A: When developing human capital there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but it is important to look at other jurisdictions and communities that have responded well to the challenges resulting from the need for highly specialized human capital, like that needed by the energy industry. This is a complex process that if well addressed, could have a favorable impact on the next generation, creating opportunities for our young workforce.

Mexico has to look at what other successful regions have implemented in short periods of time. The Eagle Ford Shale play in South Texas is a good example. In an area where there was little readiness in terms of human capital availability, the state, the industry and academia quickly developed a formula to train the required workforce in public schools. In general, Mexico has to look at schemes where there is strong collaboration between the industry and the academia. A good example is the Energy Program that the University of Aberdeen has: it is remarkable how well the university interacts with the industry, saving costs and providing solutions and opportunities for all involved.

It is important to note that the federal government created an initiative called the Strategic Human Capital Training Program for the Energy Industry. Under this program, higher education institutions can obtain grants so they can enter into collaborative agreements with foreign institutions to train and improve the skills of the human resources for the energy sector (such as collaborative agreements with the Universities of Calgary, Arizona and Berkeley.) This program will also award more than 60,000 bachelor’s and Master’s scholarships and technical diplomas will be awarded until 2018 

Q: Which hard and soft skills are Mexican workers most lacking in the oil and gas sector?

A: For over seven decades, the Mexican workforce was responding to PEMEX’s needs and demands. If PEMEX was not active in certain fields and technologies, such as deepwaters and unconventional areas, the Mexican workforce will most likely lack the skills required by such activities, which has been duly noted by the legislators that established the goal of reaching 35 percent national content by 2025. However, the newly adopted Hydrocarbon Law of 2014, intentionally left out the requirement of the deepwater E&P contracts.

The goals defined for the initial exploration terms in the first tender for deepwater were marked at 3 percent, a quite low target compared to other fields such as the mature fields tender auctioned in Round One, which had an initial local content goal of up to 22 percent. It is yet to be seen what the goal will be for unconventional fields to be auctioned later this year.

Therefore, we observe that there are two key challenges to address: first, the need to develop a service industry in areas where there was not or that had very little activity in Mexico, such as the deepwater and unconventional fields; and second, this new service industry will have to adapt to migrate from the mentality of the single client (PEMEX) to multiple clients. This again, brings relevance to the need of a good and well-established collaboration between government, industry and academia. Access to Energy truly understands the importance of these interactions and discussions and is constantly seeking to take an active role in these very important exchanges.

Q: How can Access to Energy help reduce the risks companies entering Mexico’s oil and gas market face?

A: If the Mexican Government is successful in establishing a good dialogue with the industry and the academia, there will be sufficient skills available to address the needs of the industry. However, we recognize that it is hard to plan for future activities if they do not happen at the end as planned. For that reason, as previously discussed, we  believe that the lack of legal and operating certainty are among the biggest risks that a foreign company could experience in Mexico.

Although the company’s focus is on human resources, it also advises clients on tax matters, finance, bookkeeping and accounting services. In fact, Access to Energy offers a diversified service for installing operations in Mexico. Some of the services offered include risk studies to advise companies with reference to office locations, the type of international employees that will be relocated and the activities they will be carrying out, as well as security measures to make employees as comfortable as possible. The advice offered by our company is essential to daily operations and recruitment budgets. All of our alliances are aimed at HR solutions because we believe the most important asset of a company is its human capital.

Q: How does Access to Energy create its human capital pipeline?

A: We have a recruitment system wherein we created a database with people who already had the required experience in the sector, who undoubtedly worked directly for PEMEX or for any of the companies contracted by PEMEX to carry out specific services. We created this database by asking them to do an interview and send us their documents, then we used this information to create a profile. After performing a psychometric examination to evaluate the attitudes and aptitudes of each individual, we began to build the database that was specific enough to meet our clients’ demands.

With this database, we can make the recruitment process even more efficient. When a client requests a specific profile, we can easily identify people with that profile. We are continually receiving CVs from specialists in the energy industry. We also participate in energy events where academic institutions, students and recent graduates from industry-related programs converge and exchange ideas.

Q: How does the firm expect to impact the Mexican oil and gas sector during 2018?

A: We hope to provide a service shelter, tailoring our services to efficiently meet the needs of our customers. This is an important factor for their success and will boost investment in the Mexico’s national energy sector.

We believe it is important to tackle the myth that our country is a complicated place to get established. With the appropriate help it is a good place to do business. In the long term, we hope to become a positive factor that enhances the confidence of companies investing in the national energy sector along the entire value chain of the hydrocarbons segment and in the electricity industry, both in renewable and nonrenewable generation.