30 October 2019, Baku, Azerbaijan - Through a project entitled “Capacity Building in Nigeria's Oil & Gas Industry”, which is implemented by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), seven Nigerian students are given the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree at Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS), a leading university in Azerbaijan.     

All along the four-year education period, students will gain theoretical knowledge and acquire practical skills, and, upon successful completion of a program of study, will be awarded a Diploma by BHOS. Today, Azerbaijan is a leader in the training of highly qualified engineers. BHOS students undergo an internship and earn work experience in transnational and international energy companies as well as all SOCAR’s affiliates and enterprises, enabling graduates to become world-class specialists.

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the Nigerian Government’s effort to build its labor force in the oil & gas industry. This effort has often been compromised by the shortage of well-trained engineers and technically skilled oil & gas sector workers. Numerous studies have shown that quality higher education is a prerequisite to advanced employment in Nigeria’s gradually evolving job market. While Nigerians who have university degrees without skills have greater difficulty entering into the job market; those who have acquired practical knowledge and skills in the course of university degrees stand better chances. Thus, practical and transferrable skills are still the fact that makes the greatest difference. 

As a result of the identified shortage, the government of Nigeria has made significant investments in the scholarship fund for the development of indigenous manpower in the petroleum industry. This is a step towards making Nigeria a human resource center for the West African sub-region. Education is a formidable transformation instrument for socio-economic empowerment and as a result, has agreed to partner with UNITAR to train its scholars in technical manpower skills development relevant to the oil & gas industry. 

This tailor-made project is conceived under the school of thought that job placement/ technical training is an integral part of the University degree curriculum. UNITAR has put together a unique 4-year schooling plan (engineering degree courses) which will include theoretical and practical skill acquisition and training. The implementation of this integrated system will allow Nigerian students access to quality higher education in relevant fields according to the pressing need of the job market (Oil and Gas). As a result of this fruitful cooperation, the Nigerian students arrived in Baku on 30 August 2019 to commence their studies at BHOS. UNITAR is looking forward to continuing implementation of this project together with BHOS and the Nigerian Government.

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