Having different mindsets, academics and industrialists are living in different worlds and pursuing different goals. The Academic is striving for creating new solutions with a high innovation rate, scientific achievements and recognition from peers with a long range perception. The Industrialist thinks in terms of short range goals, prefers proven solutions with a low risk and is mainly concerned with costs, profits and economic survival. In view of that, the deficiency of properly skilled labor across the oil and gas industry is emerging as a significant and complex challenge to Middle Eastern countries' future development. Regardless of the large number of universities, technical graduates and post-graduates added to the workforce, only small percentage of them are considered employable by the rapidly growing industry. Hence, the growing gap between academia and industry is reflected on slight availability of high-quality college/university graduates demanded by the industry. This problem can be overcome by having proper and sustainable industry-academia interactions that help to pass on relevant knowledge.
Academic institutions place a great importance to closer interaction with industry and research and development organizations. Some interaction has been witnessed, in the developed countries, between large public and private sector enterprises and academic institutes at a level of industry involvement in technology development. Still, industry support to basic research is almost non-existent in developing countries. Academic institutions laboratories utilization by industry for developmental purposes and for product testing has seen some success. With the establishment of in-house research centers by different industries such labs utilization is on a gradual decrease. Effective collaboration between the oil and gas industry and universities will be critical to the industry economic recovery and sustainable international competitiveness. Industry must also make a sustained effort in supporting higher education by providing the support needed to help students build the employability and technical skills that are so important.
The joint research venture can be successful only by proper project preparation and implementation. Some cases of cooperation between academia and Senergy GB Limited will be discussed. A number of key issues to achieve successful cooperation between industry and academia are suggested.
The areas in which interaction is possible include industry support to basic research for knowledge creation, industry participation in technology development involving some exploratory work, academic intervention in solving industry problems, laboratory utilization by industry, faculty members' sabbatical leave and industry involvement in curriculum development. Also, the paper proposes that the oil and gas industry should work with universities to:
Sponsor students studying subjects relevant to industrial needs.
Offer more opportunities for internships, placements, work experience or projects.
View working with universities as part of core innovation activity.
Integrate an academic research group and an industrial development team to generate useful research results and solutions.