School focuses on providing students in Azerbaijan not just with technical education but also managerial, communication skills
As the industry pushes forward with the digital revolution and as experienced professionals continue to retire, young talent and new expertise are sorely needed. One school that is tackling this challenge in collaboration with the industry is the Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS) in Azerbaijan.
Recognizing that oil and gas accounts for an overwhelming proportion of its economy, the country saw the need for a national university that would develop the necessary next-generation professionals. “Azerbaijan, as you know, is an oil country,” said Elmar Gasimov, Rector of BHOS. “The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has the motto that we have to turn oil capital into human capital. We need professionals in the oil and gas and chemical sectors who are highly qualified and can bring modern know-how into this field.”
Established in 2011, BHOS offers Bachelor’s degree programs in petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, process automation engineering and information security. Master’s degree programs are offered in petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, process automation engineering and business administration.
Since its inception, the school has been partnering with Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University so that all graduates of BHOS get diplomas from both schools. This provides BHOS students with opportunities for international internships and jobs that may not be available to students from other schools in Azerbaijan, Mr Gasimov said.
While BHOS is focused on providing its students with a solid technical education, the rector noted that he’s equally focused on ensuring that his students enter the industry with strong managerial and communication skills. To this end, the school has a joint program with BP called Business Education for Engineers.
The course is designed for fifth-year students to help them gain knowledge and practical skills in management and business. The goal is to facilitate students with more efficient integration into the business environment.
Eight core modules of the program are presentation and communication skills; project management; time management and efficiency; leadership; risk management; introduction to finance, budget and cost control; HR management fundamentals; and negotiation skills. Each module contains a theoretical training manual and practical exercises.
“We work closely with companies in the industry, so we know what skills they need and what they want when recruiting students,” Mr Gasimov said.
In fact, the school is so confident that it produces the best-qualified students for the oil and gas industry that its motto is, “We are not looking for a job. It is looking for us.”
Looking to the future, Mr Gasimov said the school plans to start R&D programs in petroleum and chemical engineering. BHOS is also working to increase its student population. While only 100 students entered the school when it opened in 2011, by 2019 the school was able to take on 300 new students.
Another goal is to continue diversifying its student population, although the percentage of women among its student population has already increased from 26% in 2012 to 31% in 2018. “The women who come to the engineering sector is increasing day by day,” Mr Gasimov said. DC