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Today, in Mexico, the majority of professions demand a certification every few years to ensure that people working in the industry have the correct updated knowledge to do so. This is especially important for professions related to the most important things: life, for example.

Whenever one hires someone to do a job, one usually makes sure that they have the skills and competences needed to perform adequately. That’s the whole purpose of human resources management: to search for the necessary requirements of different industries, and match them with the correct profile companies are looking for. This proves to have an increasing importance according to the relevance of the job.

The medical sector is a great example of this. A professional within this sector is heavily scrutinized because she has to handle with the most important thing ever: your life. She also has to overcome difficult theoretical and practical tests during her almost endless education to be able to keep up with different technologies, techniques, and advances in the medicine science, so she can perform adequately. These factors make up for the minimum knowledge they need to possess. The other part is just a matter of fitting them with healthcare companies’ and hospitals’ needs. Then, the medical professional needs to take care of herself. If she doesn’t continue learning and pass a certificate test every 5 years,s he cannot longer do her job.

What does this have to do with the oil industry? It’s easy: things are not so different. Here, we have a lot of companies looking to make that pairing between skill and fit easier: Manpower, PAE, Kelly Services, etc. Petroleum engineers also have to go through a degree program where they are trained for real life. Even if their role isn’t directly to save lives, their attributions while at some projects actually contribute to this. After getting their degrees, it is just about getting fitted into the oil labour market… Well, not exactly.

According to Gustavo Hernández García, current President of the College of Mexican Petroleum Engineers (CIPM), “this is not only about studying 4 or 5 years at your university, receiving your degree, and saying: ‘I can work now’. You have to be certified to work here.” Gustavo Hernández, who is also Sub-Director for Planning and Evaluation of Pemex E&P, believes that there should be no difference in the requirements of working in the oil industry than in the medical and accounting professions. And why should there be one? Sure, death and taxes are things that worry Mexicans a lot, and the professionals taking care of them should have a minimum level of updated knowledge to do so. But oil should be a thing of concern for all Mexicans, too. After all, our country’s economy heavily depends on oil to survive. Therefore, a certification of a certain degree of knowledge should be mandatory for the professional workers in the industry, he argues.

CIPM is thoroughly committed to establish this requirement soon in the oil industry. “It is a process that will take maybe 2 or 3 years, but we will make sure that, mid-term, every petroleum engineer that is working in Mexico will have at least a minimum average level of competence to perform petroleum engineering activities in the country. We’re talking not only about national engineers, but also international engineers coming here to work.”

So, how will this process take place? Well, it is pretty simple. A set of questions and answers is already being elaborated as I write this to properly evaluate the skills and knowledge of petroleum engineering. In the next few weeks, the CIPM is expecting the approval from the Ministry of Education’s Profession General Direction to perform these tests and issue the certification. After that, the certifications will start to take place.

“As a first step, we’re going to let this certification process be up to the engineers, but if they take the certification test, and they pass, they will have additional rights in Pemex to have salary raises, promotions, participation in training courses, and other things that will help them professionally.” Best practices will be mimicked from institutions that issue this kind of certificates around the world, so a study guide will be created, with a demo-test in it for engineers to prepare themselves. When they feel ready to take the test, they will be able to do it in one of the four different certification centers to be placed across the country, near the main oil hubs: Poza Rica, Villahermosa, Ciudad del Carmen, and Mexico City.

“The outcome won’t be binary; it’s not a test you simply pass or fail. Instead, when you don’t approve the standards, you’ll be asked to improve in some of the subjects, and perhaps take some courses.” Once the engineer passes the test, the idea is to have this certificate valid for the next 5 years, when they’ll be required to re-take the test and revalidate their knowledge.

This certification, which is already been green-lighted by the Association of Petroleum Engineers (Asociación de Ingenieros Petroleros de México, A.C.) and the Mexican chapter of the SPE, and is planning to expand in the future to other Latin American countries, will only entail a recovery fee for engineers, and will improve the industry’s efficiency greatly.

So, petroleum engineers, better start dusting off your books and start studying!

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