OSLO, May 31 (Xinhua) -- A Norwegian expert welcomes the fact that fewer students in Norway are choosing petroleum science for their major, newspaper Aftenposten reported Wednesday.
That fewer students want to study oil as a subject is "a healthy sign" for the Norwegian economy, said Thor Richard Isaksen, head of communications at technology company Zedge.
His comments were in reaction to statements made by Egil Tjaland, department head of geosciences and petroleum at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), who encouraged new students to choose petroleum sciences.
"It is guaranteed the safest education you can choose to get a good job in Norway when you have finished your studies," Tjaland said.
But Isaksen said it was "irresponsible to give promises of jobs in an industry that is over its peak and which has proved to be far more cyclically sensitive than previously assumed."
"This I think the students have understood," Isaksen said, pointing out that it was much safer to focus on information technology (IT) and programming than on oil.
"The most required expertise in the labor market right now is not petroleum science but programming. That is how it has been for a long time," Isaksen said.
He emphasized that there was no contradiction between the need for oil engineers and IT engineers.
"It is a healthy sign that the young people themselves take the signals so clearly and apply to other education than petroleum subjects. That way, the students make it easier to change the Norwegian economy than if we continued to have an accumulation of engineering expertise in the oil industry," Isaksen said.
"This is not about being negative towards the oil industry, but understanding that the Norwegian economy needs other skills," he said.
Tjaland, on the other hand, thought differently. "It would be irresponsible for Norway not to provide an education that creates competence in Norway's most important industry," he said.
"Many who began in the oil industry in the 1980s are retiring. Petroleum education is also important for making oil extraction and use more climate-friendly," Tjaland said.
Tjaland pointed out that both oil and IT were industries that experienced cycles.
"The dot-com bubble around 2000 showed that times also fluctuate for IT. I do not agree that oil is more cyclically-exposed than other industries," he said.