Kazakhstanskaya Pravda

By Ludmila KORINA

The prestige of having a good education is growing. It is considered to be great luck to have the opportunity to gain world standard knowledge and professional skills. The Priural'e residents are lucky in this sense. The residents of Western Kazakhstan are learning from the foreign specialists as the work continues. Their lives made it necessary for them to continue learning. A high level of qualifications is required to work at the Karachaganak field.

An example of this was in 2003 when the second stage of the Karachaganak project came to a close. This segment included the large-scale construction of the production and processing facilities, when 20,000 people were employed. 500 Kazakhstani companies received contracts for the supply of goods, materials and services. All construction ends at some point in time, however, and people were laid off after its completion. It was said that a demobilization of personnel took place at the field. However, the unemployment boom that was expected to follow never took place. KPO and oblast administration took measures in advance to counter this problem, however.

The main thing is that skills and knowledge are being improved at Karachaganak. With such qualifications, it is not difficult to find a job. The experience gained through working at the field serves a solid recommendation and sort of professional certification. Also, the Uralsk Special Center accepted resumes from those whose contracts had ended. These resumes were then published on their web site, to which foreign and local companies have access. Many people then found employment at the Caspian shelf. People also found employment in other regions, since Karachaganak had taught them one main thing - to work to their maximum ability. At first it was hard for the Kazakhstani workers to get used to the harsh quality requirements on the part of the investors. World famous companies operate the Karachaganak deposit, including the BG Group, ENI, Chevron and LUKOIL.

Only when the foreign partners arrived did the planned development begin at the field. The main stage of development started in 2000. In 2002, the personnel nationalization program began, which was agreed upon with the government. This program stipulated the staged replacement of foreign personnel with Kazakhstani workers. During the various stages of development of the construction and infrastructure, the foreigners managed the process, and during the operational stage, locals began to replace the foreigners.

A training center is operating in Aksai, the administrative center of the field. Many employees from KPO and their contractor organizations go through the center. The strictest requirements were put in place in regard to the observance of safety measures. The employees must learn and observe these, and any violations are punished. The safety exams are the most serious test of all that is conducted by the center. This step is not simply a formality, like the older generation is accustomed to during the Soviet times. The next stage is the provision of professional education. Equipment and technology are very complicated and expensive at the field, and they can be only trusted in skilled hands. The teachers at the training center have the task to provide more than a wide specter of knowledge. It is equally as important to improve their own qualifications for the workers, as the production process is constantly being improved, and advanced technologies are being applied. For example, gas re-injection for increasing the well pressure is now being applied at Karachaganak for the first time in the world. Thus, it is necessary to meet high requirements, which are demanded of all personnel. The work is so important that even the smallest mistakes must be eliminated. The Honeywell Company has installed trainers at the center for a cost of USD 2.5 MM; workers learn skills for managing processes. KPO has a thoughtful and rational approach to the formation of teams to replace foreigners. Only capable workers have a chance to grow in their careers. The motto of the KPO personnel nationalization program is, "For all who are brave and determined, Karachaganak presents an opportunity to participate in the development of the world largest field under the leadership of leading experts to obtain experience in an international company with multinational structure. We are looking for people who are responsible, capable of developing, specialists with high potential and high productivity." A healthy careerism and big ambition are welcome. More so, promising professionals, together with their trainers must develop individual plans for career development and training. There are many examples of successful career growth on the part of the Kazakhstanis.

In April this year, a big event took place. A group of KPO managers completed a 2-year education program, which was conducted under the auspice of the International Management Program. Constant training was conducted without halting the production process. The teachers came from the prestigious British Chartered Management Institute, which has the authority to certify managers. The program included courses that are necessary for highly qualified managers. The diploma award ceremony was conducted in London. BG Executive Director, Frank Chapman congratulated each graduate. The only Kazakhstani to receive the highest level of diploma was Nurzhan Kamalov. In international business, this level of degree provides one with the right to occupy top management positions, and is a vivid example of one cannot gain too much knowledge. Kamalov is now one of the managing directors of KPO. This is an important and vital sphere of work, which requires one's total devotion, but none-the-less, Mr. Kamalov found time to study in London. He can be proud that he did so much for his region. As the Uralsk KPO Office Manager, Mr. Kamalov supervised the implementation of social projects that were financed by the Karachaganak investors. During this time, social facilities were constructed for Uralsk residents with the funds of foreign companies. These facilities include the 1,500-seat ice palace, Kazakh Drama Theatre. The Oblast Philharmonic was also restored. The best recreation facility however, is the Uralsk Street Teatralnaya. In addition, schools, hospitals, roads, gas pipelines were constructed, so many things...

Each year, KPO spends USD 10 MM for social development. One more rule that the company puts into practice is that only Kazakhstanis are employed for social construction projects. Cooperation between numerous companies and the investors is also a school for developing many skills.

"Winning a contract from KPO means a lot of responsibility and is a big honor," the Otdelstroy Production Cooperative Chair, Valentina Mikhno said. "We were one of the first to win a contract. In 1999, we renovated the clinical hospital department. There were other large projects as well. The most memorable was the family style children's village. Despite the purpose of the facility, KPO always requires an observance of deadlines and quality assurance. Cooperation with KPO forced our workers to improve their qualifications, learn to work at the level of international standards. Last year, Otdelstroy obtained an ISO-9001 international certificate. Now we have many orders, but not only us. The entire construction industry of Priural'e has recovered, thanks to the Karachaganak investors.

KPO cooperates with Uralsk universities, invites students for internships, and finances educational projects in various sectors of the economy. All KPO employees study the English language, and there are also Kazakh language courses available. A lot of money is spent for these projects. But KPO management believes that these steps entail a profitable investment. The motto of the personnel nationalization program is, "an investment in education is an investment into the future of Kazakhstan."