Building economies is not about building institutions but building the right people who are ready to oversee economic growth and pave the way for a more economically prosperous future. Indeed, grooming the right people to take on the next period of economic challenges is a difficult yet necessary task that can sow the seeds of the economic prosperity of tomorrow. It’s no mystery that the recipe for cooking up robust economic growth, especially in energy economics, is not just limited to the availability and amount of resources at a country’s disposal. Rather a huge contributing factor to economic growth in the energy sector can be lies in building the human capacities that are available in the market.
The correlation between energy economics and capacity building is no secret. For example, Japan, a country smaller in size that has fewer resources, has one of the world’s largest economies and greatly outperforms nations that have more territory, resources, and raw materials. This is mainly due to the fact that the country has built a country and culture where productivity and efficiency are cherished and professionals working within their industries have the necessary credentials and skillsets to ensure continued economic prosperity.
The International Labour Organization highlights that capacity building is first and foremost the key to building an energy economy that can quickly adapt to change and develop quickly. “Given the importance of these issues, the ILO’s 2008 International Labour Conference (ILC) general discussion on how skills development could better serve the twin objectives of increasing the quantity of labour employed and the productivity of labour was timely. The ILC adopted conclusions that provide a forward-looking framework for strengthening linkages between skills, productivity, employment, development and decent work. These conclusions underscore the principle that effective skills development policies need to be integral components of national development strategies in order to prepare the workforce and enterprises for new opportunities and preparedness to deal with change. In order to successfully link skills to productivity and employment creation skills policies should target three objectives: matching supply to current demand for skills; helping workers and enterprises adjust to change; and anticipating and delivering the new and different skills that will be needed in the future,” it said in a report by Mary Kawar titled “Skills Development for Job Creation, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction”.
Part of the challenge that many economies around the world face, particularly in the energy sector, is the lack of the necessary human capacities to bring about energy efficiency. Innovation and technology have always been a fundamental part of making production more efficient while delivering on society’s energy needs. As the lack of energy efficiency severely affects economic performance and hinders the productive capacity of the energy economy, capacity building can provide the necessary human resources that are needed not only to provide the necessary innovation but to give the local economy a competitive advantage over other markets. A separate report by Dennis Rondinelli titled “Institutions and Market Development: Capacity Building for Economic and Social Transition” highlights that “the basis of national economic development is shifting quickly from mass production industries relying on low-wage labour and cheap raw materials and energy to a technology- and knowledge-based system of production and services. Such a system will require better educated and higher skilled workers, modern infrastructure, and flexible and responsive public and private organizations. This shift to a technology-based and knowledge-based system of production and services will provide higher incomes to those workers and managers who have the skills and knowledge to participate effectively.”
In recognizing the important role that capacity building in guaranteeing the future growth of the energy sector, Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has been at the forefront of signing many agreements with international companies to enhance capacity building within the sector. This is part of an effort that not only contributes to Egypt’s overall economic well-being but also works to enhance business culture at both an organizational and economic level. The efforts to build human capacities, in the long run, have also been actively explored with Ministry’s Middle Management programs, which has attracted many across the industry.
In seeking to be a self-sufficient nation, Egypt has embarked on a long journey to improve the quality of its human resources through training and capacity-building initiatives. These efforts will significantly reduce the country’s dependence on foreign expertise from abroad and create the potential to breed a younger generation of more highly trained professionals who can take the sector to the next level and possibly even promote entrepreneurship while boosting the local private sector. Reaping the economic benefits of capacity building is a slow and costly process, but the long-term benefits of this process are guaranteed.