Year Aldelia was established:2005
Upsides to the downturn in IraqDecember 14, 2015
Rudolf Bahri, Iraq business development manager of Aldelia in Dubai, talks to TOGY about the new opportunities in Iraq for human resources companies. He also touches on local content issues, new Iraqi graduates and the opportunities presented by the economic downturn. The company plays an active role in the recruitment of permanent and contract personnel, both expatriate and local.
What opportunities are present for human resources companies in Iraq given the current state of the economy?
Due to low oil prices, investment decisions have been blocked. The result has been that projects have been put on hold instead of being cancelled altogether. This presents a great deal of opportunity for human resources companies, not in terms of recruitment because everyone is trying to reduce their overhead, but it allows companies time to train personnel during the downturn.
The current economic slump represents a period when operating companies would incur fewer losses in terms of productivity by concentrating on personnel. For the same reason, maintenance programmes are being conducted now because operational shutdowns are less costly when oil prices are low.
Other opportunities exist for staffing companies to provide maintenance crews. Human resources companies can use these same personnel to conduct shutdowns, metrology studies and assessments surveys.
How has the economic downturn impacted competition in the market?
The situation is very similar to what happened in 2014 in terms of the volume of work and volume personnel mobilisation. The difference is that there are not as many new projects as before, so companies are maximising the upscaling of the current projects. As a result, there is a real need for training and maintenance crews, compared with last year when it was not a high priority for our clients.
You can only increase market share if you are able to work with local content, local resources and have an official entity in Iraq to show credibility to work with the national oil companies. Accordingly, new companies will encounter difficulties entering the market.
How reliable is the academic system in Iraq regarding new recruits for oil companies?
There is a huge pool of universities, such as the University of Basra with several engineering disciplines. However, Iraq needs more research departments to develop and benefit from new oil and gas technologies that are used worldwide. The foundation of the system is good enough to start training, but universities must bring new materials and fresh technologies in order for the quality of the education to meet the standards required in the oil and gas industry.
Many local operators are hiring as many young local graduates as they can. Other companies such as Shell or BP have their own onsite vocational training centres, where training can be provided to give graduates more hands-on experience with new technologies and practices.
What changes have there been in newly graduated Iraqis entering the marketplace?
Up until 2014, we had some difficulties in helping candidates find their ideal careers. Because of the economic slump, recruitment has slowed. Graduates have started to invest more time and energy into growing with their companies.
Most of our people today show an interest in staying in Iraq, especially in the south, to develop and grow with the business. Major oil companies will be here, growing for decades and locals want to be part of that.
How important is local content in Iraq?
Nationals are the future of Iraq. Companies are willing to make sure that local content will be met for their projects so that all local stakeholders will benefit from the oil and gas industry.
Among them, BP and Shell are investing a great deal in local content. The South Oil Company is also emphasising local services and equipment, especially when it comes to awarding contracts. They are more and more in favour of the local companies and local resources that are available in the country.
Any company active in Iraq understands that while they might have an official licence to operate, they also need a social licence to work in the country. They need to work in tandem with their direct and indirect stakeholders: the tribes, the community and the universities.
More companies are working towards improving the acceptability of their operations. Building trust takes time, but breaking it will take no time at all. Companies need to make sure relations with impacted stakeholders are healthy from the start and that they are built to safeguard the continuity of that relationship.
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