Seven underprivileged girls have been trained in welding to help fill the skills gap in the oil and gas industry. Although the industry has become an integral part of Ghana’s economy, not many Ghanaians have the skills to work in the sector, leaving a lot of the skilled jobs for expatriates. Although there are no statistics, experts believe that for every job where there are 50 experts qualified, only one Ghanaian has the expertise to fill such positions.

Speaking at the graduation of the seven girls, CEO of MODEC, sponsors of the program, was confident that the girls would be able to fabricate portions of the next FPSO built in Ghana.

The project follows the realisation that, despite training more than 500 professionals in Ghana and West Africa at RMU’s Welding and Training and Fabrication Center since 2016, only 5 percent of the candidates were women. The 40 thousand dollars fully funded all female welder training provided hands-on training and mentorship to the young SHS leavers, most of whom would have otherwise dropped out. Acting Vice Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University, Dr Jethro Wilber Brooks, said there is a major skills gap in Ghana’s oil and gas industry which needs to be filled and called on government as well as corporate Ghana to invest in building capacity.

“Finding staff in advanced welding and fittings in the oil and gas industry have been missing. It is that gap we are filling so that local content development can increase as much as possible. That will also reduce the number of expatriates coming in to perform these duties in Ghana. If you have one expatriate to perform a particular task, currently the gap is very wide. We don’t have the statistics, but we may be having one to every hundred or one to fifty.”

The CEO of MODEC, Theophilus Ahwireng, said he was pleased with the positive feedback he received about the discipline, dedication, and passion of the girls to learn new skills and support each other. He admonished the girls to translate their passion and skills into action.

According to Mr Ahwireng, operating and managing sophisticated machinery such as FPSOs requires a lot of expertise. However, at the beginning of Ghana’s oil and gas industry, there were doubts that Ghanaians would have the skills to deliver the services. He said that with the investment in training, more Ghanaians are taking up leadership roles in the sector.

“MODEC is one of the two top companies in the world that fabricate FPSOs, and we also operate and maintain FPSOs. It was a lot of doubt that we could have local people who can deliver this service. But through the various but due to various programs we have undertaken in the industry, today, when you go into an FPSO in Ghana, in the second level of Leadership on the FPSOs, most of the people manning these facilities are Ghanaians. Several years ago, it was with a lot of doubt that portions of such sophisticated machinery could be fabricated in Ghana. But I’m telling you that portions of the last two FPSOs, which were launched in Ghana, various components were fabricated in this country by Ghanaian technicians.”

One beneficiary, Stella Akoto, said she had failed three subjects in the WASSCE examination. Despite two attempts to improve her grades in the 2020 and 2022 Nov/Dec examinations, she still failed. However, a friend who had also studied at RMU sent her the flyer and encouraged her to apply. She got more interested because most of her colleagues who also took the Nov/Dec examination had gone into handiwork. She applied and was selected for training out of more than 400 applicants. According to her, she was successful and hopes to use the skills she gained to build a future.

For Theresa Osei Dampo, she believes the program will empower young ladies to break the male stereotypes in the oil and gas industry.

“If I can do it, then I think someone out there can also do it.”

The project was in collaboration with CPI Training, a Canadian project management firm.