The emphasis on oil engineering is bad for Norway's future in green energy, according to Omar Samy Gamal of the Norwegian Society of Engineers and Technologists (Norges ingeniør og teknologorganisasjon, NITO).
“Several Norwegian engineering programmes are intoxicated on funds from the oil sector. Now it's time for detoxification and innovation, and engineering and technology study programmes are not keeping up,” Gamal told broadcaster NRK.
The engineering student, who completed his bachelor's degree in 2015, says he learned the same things as colleagues that graduated in 2005.
“The world is in the middle of a technological revolution, and the only concern here in Norway is how we can recruit more oil engineers,” he said.
According to a report by NRK, 36 percent of NITO's students do not think their studies are equipping them for digitalisation and the increased use of robots.
Citing studies that predict fossil fuel energy will be completely phased out by 2050, Gamal told the broadcaster that more emphasis should be placed on renewable energy.
“Young people realise that the future is green and they want to work in a forward-looking field. That is to say, they want to have a job after 2050,” Gamal said.
Fewer students than ever are now applying for oil-related classes at other universities, including Stavanger, Molde and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, reports NRK.
Political advisor Elnar Remi Holmen at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (Olje- og energidepartementet) told the broadcaster that he was disappointed in the comments coming from NITO.
“This is poor form from the NITO students. We will need more oil engineers for decades to come,” Holmen said.
Holmen's department maintains that oil and gas will be an important part of energy sources worldwide for a long time to come.
Neither was there much support for Gamal's view at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, NTNU).
“The statements from NITO are very generalising and partly misleading. The future for the Norwegian oil industry is well described in for example the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (Oljedirektoratet) annual report,” Egil Tjåland, head of department at the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum, told NRK.