The Relevance Of Globally Recognized Professional Certification Business Essay

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CHAPTER ONE

Overview

Professional certification in the oil and gas industry is essential to building capacity. The problem with the technical competence of the Nigerian oil and gas industries is the lack of "competent" man power. Off course this can be attributed to the fact that Nigeria is a developing nation and as well, lacks sound educational structure.

This paper is focused on increasing Nigerian oil and gas sector's competency level and profitability on human resource by training and equipping them professionally as such reducing cost on expatriate resource.

1.1 Introduction

Nigeria is blessed with human resource of about 150 million at the following category:

------------1998----------- ------------2010----------

AGE TOTAL MALE FEMALE TOTAL MALE FEMALE

TOTAL 110,532 55,920 54,613 150,274 75,657 74,617

00-04 19,737 9,942 9,795 24,706 12,447 12,258

05-09 16,286 8,162 8,124 22,070 11,073 10,997

10-14 13,510 6,768 6,742 19,682 9,865 9,817

15-19 11,721 5,881 5,840 16,988 8,510 8,478

20-24 9,516 4,788 4,728 13,928 7,014 6,914

25-29 7,857 3,982 3,876 11,435 5,817 5,617

30-34 6,600 3,355 3,245 9,005 4,612 4,392

35-39 5,426 2,798 2,627 7,012 3,591 3,421

40-44 4,456 2,339 2,117 5,718 2,900 2,818

45-49 4,041 2,085 1,956 4,718 2,392 2,326

50-54 3,460 1,787 1,673 3,877 1,989 1,888

55-59 2,677 1,381 1,296 3,366 1,692 1,674

60-64 2,010 1,024 986 2,870 1,409 1,461

65-69 1,469 742 727 2,112 1,022 1,091

70-74 973 486 487 1,438 685 753

75-79 531 263 268 852 400 452

80+ 262 136 126 499 240 259

Figure 1. U.S. Bureau of the Census, International Data Base.

Recent statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that about 10 million Nigerians were unemployed in Nigeria at March, 2009.

The National Bureau of Statistics defines the unemployment rate as the percentage of Nigeria's labour force that is qualified to work but did not work for at least 39 hours in the week preceding the survey. The total labour force is made up of people aged between 15 to 64 years and excludes students, home-keepers, retired persons, stay-at-home parents, and persons unable to work or not interested in work. Could this be because there are just very few jobs? Could it be because there are just few projects? Could it be because there are very few companies, resulting in minimal recruitment?

In a study, NEEDS (2004) narrated that Nigeria has the potential of becoming Africa's largest economy and a major player in the global economy by virtue of her rich human and natural endowment.

Goldman Sachs (2007a) argued that Nigeria and Egypt are the only two countries in Africa that have the potential to attain the G-20 status in the year 2020. Yet Nigeria is derailing considerably in the human and social performance indicators having recorded an increase in poverty rate from 49.2% in 1993 to 64.4% in 2004.

1.2 The problem

Challenges faced with manpower development in the Nigerian oil and gas sector today are numerous. Some of the challenges include ageing in workforces, shortage of skilled labour, technology advancement, increasing global competition.

The cause of this state can be attributed to the following:

The people are not properly educated by lecturers, teachers, trainers that are non-current and inexperienced. The educational and training facilities are inadequate. According to the Millennium Development Goals, Goal2, Target 3 - "Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling",

Source: United Nations Statistics Division - Unless otherwise noted, information in this page is accurate as of February 15, 2007

Figure 2. Primary education completion rates in Nigeria

the statistics reveal that Nigeria has failed to develop suitable succession plan for man power development in terms of formal education and the danger is that at this rate, the MDG in this context may not be attainable.

Nigeria lacks infrastructural development. The road network is underdeveloped resulting in disconnection of communities from cities. Efforts made to develop rural areas face huge challenge because of inaccessible transportation network. In Nigeria, because there are more rural areas, it possible that more manpower is in rural settlement thereby, limiting the number of manpower exposed to development.

More than two-third of Nigerians are poor. In 1990, about 70% of Nigerians lived under $1 a day (NEEDS 2005). The health care system is horrendous as doctor-patient ratio is 1:1000. the reason is not far fetched as a medical degree in Nigeria is only for the rich.

The governance is selfish stumbling with unstable policies as corruption threatens to crumble the economy. This threatens intending investors and the progress of Corporate Social Responsibility of existing investors.

The civil unrest erupting in Egypt and some part of Africa is not far fetched from these problems. According to Michael Robin, "It's a cruel country for the 16 million who eke out a life on less than $2 a day. Forty million don't know even how to read, and those who do- legions of dynamic young people who worked hard to get an education, find there's nowhere to use it. Many of the street vendors you see in Egypt may have college degrees, but they have no hope of finding a job, no hope of really meeting their ambitions in life, and these are the people who are now taking their grievances out on the streets".

These problems suggest the reason why capacity development is scarce in the Nigerian oil and gas industries. Due to the steady and speedy rate of advancement in technology, capacity development will prove difficult unless strategic approaches are adopted.

CHAPTER TWO

Certification

Certification is a designation earned by an individual to assure qualification to perform a job or task. Certifications are earned from professional societies or IT vendors and are usually valid for a specific period. In most cases, certification processes starts as a program in which tests/ examinations are conducted at the end. This process is referred to as certification program. Most certification programs are created, sponsored or affiliated with professional society, trade organisation or IT vendor interested in ensuring and raising standards. It is important to note that certifications are usually earned by professional societies or educational institutions and not the government. If a demonstration of ability or knowledge to work or perform an activity is required by law, the reward is referred to licensure. In Nigeria professional licenses are issued by state and federal agencies. In most cases, the certification and licensure processes are similar. An example is the driver's license issued by the federal road safety commission of Nigeria. The process is thus- take classes, read the books, undergo driving test.

It is common that evidence of continuing learning be shown for revalidation of the certificate. This is referred to as continuing educational unit, in some cases, professional development unit. This is a measure driven to ensure that professionals maintain and sustain their certification. Certifications are common in construction, aviation, technology, health care, administration, business and they are generally separated into three categories - Corporate/internal certification, Product Specific certification, Profession Wide certification.

2.1 Rating Professional Certification

It is true that all professional certifications are globally recognised. The question is, are they all equal since it is required they meet the ANSI 1100 standard? Discussions on the following criteria will give us a clue:

2.1.1 Career level

In most cases, professions are categorised into beginner level, intermediate level, advanced level and sometimes expert or specialist level. It is also common to have professional certifications distributed into these levels. An example is with the PMI (Project Management Institute). PMI offers certifications such as CAPM, PMP, PgMP which falls into various career levels. In this case CAPM cannot be regarded as equal to PMP as well as PgMP.

2.1.2 Average time to completion

This refers to the total time taken or required to complete a certification programme. Some professional certifications may take one month to complete while some may take as much as two years (24 months). For some certifications, a time requirement is specified.

2.1.3 Number of exams to be taken

This involves the number of exams a candidate should sit for before obtaining a certification. This excludes number of reseats to pass. For example, PMP provides one exam with 200 multiple choice questions, CAPM provides one exam with 150 multiple choice questions, AACE's CCE provides four level exams.

2.1.4 Cost of exams

This takes into account the cost of all exams required to be taken for a certification and adds them up. It also doesn't include the number of tries to pass the exam.

2.1.5 Experience requirement

Some certification can be acquired by reading the books alone. Some are unapproachable without real-world, hands-on experience with the tools and techniques that the certification cover. Some other certification requirements specify the experience criteria in terms of years, days or hours. For example, PMP requires five years experience in project management, CCE specifies eight years.

2.1.6 Education level requirement

This indicates the educational level qualification requirement for eligibility for a certification. Some professional certifications require a high school degree, some require a bachelor degree or even a master degree and some others may not require any form of education.

Income potential: Some professional certifications are pretty common or don't add much additional income potential to their holders. Some other certifications add a fortune to their holders depending on their reputation and demand.

2.1.7 Fame

This involves popularity, recognition, ranking of professional certifications. Some professional certifications gain recognition from project specifications, others from books (or number of books) written on them. The demand on the employment market is also a factor.

The above listed indicators if quantified and placed against professional certifications for comparison may be found useful as criteria for rating professional certifications.

2.2 Certification and Competency

In the context of professional certification, many questions have been asked if competency is measured by professional certification (or to what level). Otherwise stated, does sitting for and passing a professional certification exam prove candidate's competency? Again, are individuals without professional certifications not competent in their area of specialization? The failure to accurately describe the scope of certification could ultimately lead to legal liability for a certification board or sponsoring association. [1] 

An instance is a driver's license issued to a 16 year old youth (as the case may be) after meeting basic qualification criteria and passing the written and skill test. This means that the youth has met the criteria for driving practice in the state and is issued a license authorising him/she to operate vehicles depending on the category. The youth will have to keep driving to increase competency level.

According to Jerald A. Jacobs, certified individuals are "those who have been found to meet criteria of competence" rather than individuals who are competent [2] .

The state (professional society) has done its part in granting the youth license (professional certification) to operate. It is up to the parents (the employer) to determine competency and authorise operation.

This reveals that job analysis is intended to identify areas of knowledge and experience which points out to competence in the said profession or task. This is to say that uncertified individuals can still display competency at a local level and that professional certification gives a platform for benchmarking.

Earning a professional certifications such as CCE or PMP, notifies your fellow professionals or employers (as the case may be) that you have scaled educational, experience and examination requirements alike (Sean McDevitt, 2010).

2.3 Concept of Competency

There are different views of competence, however the understanding of competency is subject to the process of continual change. This depends as the case may be on the evolution of technology hence qualification. Jonathan Winterton (2005) presents competence in three perspectives- Vertical (Individual career progression), Horizontal (portability across sectors) and Spatial (mobility across the globe. Figure 3 displays the

Leonardo da Vinci projects VALID and DEVELOP, reveals four routes of competence ranging from tacit competency- informally acquired and uncertified, to qualified competency- acquired from formal training and instruction and recognized by certification.

Competency continual Change

Length of learning phase

Environment

Communication and cooperation abilities

Physical Labour

Knowledge

Brainwork

Skills

Legend:

Responsibility- - - - Old qualification Profile

New qualification profile

Prof. Dr. Rudulf Tipelt competency continual change model

Figure 3

Individual

(Career progression)

Dimensions of Competence

(Movement between Sectors)

Organisation

Figure 4

Routes of Competence

Uncertified

CertifiedRecognition

Formal

InformalAcquired

Figure 5

2.3.1 Knowledge, Skill and Competency

Skills and knowledge has been identified as the key players in the competency process.

Some school of thought refers to knowledge as a firm expression of abstract intelligence. But knowledge in the real sense is seen as a combination of intelligence (capacity to learn) and situation (opportunity to learn). Otherwise stated, knowledge is an interaction between concepts, theories and tacit knowledge gained from experiences in performing a task (Emma Stringfellow 2005).

Skill on the other hand is referred to as a level of performance in terms of speed and accuracy. Procter and Dutta defined skill as "goal-directed, well-organized behaviour that is acquired through practice and performed with economy of effort". From this definition, skill can be seen to develop over time with practice. In most cases trial and error methods are very good measures in adding to skills.

It will be logical to deduce that the combination of knowledge and skill yields competence. However, competence cannot be fully expressed outside attitude. ProjectExperts (2006) defined competence as "Consistently-demonstrated and appropriately used Attitudes, Behavioural Attributes, Skills and Knowledge, resulting in clear Enterprise benefit".

Figure 6. Competency Development Ladder

The interaction between these components is such that one begins with knowledge, applies it to extend skill, receives reward/recognition to underpin attitude (behaviour), hence attaining competence.

CHAPTER THREE

Competency development (CD) in Nigerian oil and gas sector

In developing competencies, it is important to note that Competence centres on "what is expected at the work place" emphasising on the job performance and not just skills or knowledge gained for an individual's use. Performance significantly poses as a measuring tool for competencies therefore introducing it to the competence development ladder will display an optimum competency development sequence.

Figure 7 Measuring Competence

Competency development starts from defining the current state/level of competency of trainee or employee as the case may be. This is done to ensure that the right people are at the right level at the right time. After which baselines are established for the process. Making reference to any functional competency model or methodology (probably of a developed nation) that suites the purpose may be useful. When all these have been put in place, a competency development plan should be established to guide the process.

Developed by Stacy A. Goff, PMP; President, ProjectExperts

Figure 8. Competency Development Plan (CDP)

Competence development doesn't just end at developing a CDP. A demonstration of success in the assessment isn't enough to prove CD success. The reason is because competency is not a function of examination but a function of on-the-job performance. The CD is measured against project performance over time. This can be done by analysing results from implementing what has been learnt from the CDP in terms of change and success.

Competency Continuing Learning (CCL)

In the Nigerian educational system, the process of learning runs from primary education to tertiary (university) educational level (9-3-4). In the view of developing competencies, it is required that continuing education be emphasised in the educational path such that Nigerian manpower are continually undergoing a learning process.

Figure 9. Career Progression Path.

The figure above displays two logical career progression paths. The yellow path representing the conventional educational progression is seen to be knowledge based. The second path which is the recommended practice for the NOC's shows the progression of knowledge into competency. The green path representing competency, suggests that CCL is not just a skill development process, it also cuts across to seek knowledge.

Conclusion

Much has changed in the developed countries and much need be done in developing capacities in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. Seeing that the challenge is enormous, the need for a well orchestrated and systematic competence development program cannot be over emphasized.

Findings from this study reveal the following:

Professional certification does not equal to competence but creates a platform for competency growth.

Competency development has to be such that can be measured and that the sure way to measure it is on performance. "If you can't measure it, you cannot manage it".

Competency is not just a function of the individual's knowledge but a function of his ability to carry out his job within the performance requirement.

Recommendation

In the Nigerian local content law, there is need for a provision to be made for measuring and monitoring competency in terms of change and success. The Nigerian government should adopt measures to source for talented manpower especially in the rural areas and sort them into career path. Policies on the oil and gas sector should be such that fosters Corporate Social Responsibility of the industries.

The role of expatriates in Nigeria should be defined not just in managing projects but also in building native capacities. Companies are required to source for expatriates that have the long term commitment to a community, a willingness to learn, and the humility to build a venture that serves the needs of the poor. One of the ways this can be achieved is by demanding a succession plan attached to their resume. Another way is by pairing expatriates to natives. For example, where an expatriate occupies the position of a manager, pairing him with a promising native as a deputy/assistant will be useful.

Seeing that competence is measured by job performance, adhering strictly to project specifications is another measure that should be consulted. Including the project specification in scope definition is essential to promoting capacity building. On the other hand, it is required that the contractor shows evidence that he/she is sticking to the specifications. For example, a project involving welding is requested to have a welding and coating inspector. A display of a welding inspector certificate (CSWIP, AWS, etc.) is required from the contractor.

Lastly, it is the responsibility of the individual to fit in the system. If the company refuses to change, he/she should employ methodical and social competence as explained earlier, as it is the job that demonstrates competence.

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