The 2010 discovery of shale oil and shale gas here in the Neuquén province of Argentina seemed to offer opportunity for young people like 27-year-old Ramiro Peña who competed for low-paying jobs on farms and in town.
Yet, employment remained elusive for local residents in San Patricio del Chañar, a quiet Patagonian town. From preparing the well site to piping the oil and gas to market, most of the new jobs in the shale fields required technical training. Workers from all over the world flocked to the region.
Local people dreamt of such jobs, but the nearest town where they could receive technical training was the provincial capital, a 90-minute drive away.
In 2013 Shell, the local employment office and the mayor of San Patricio del Chañar decided to launch a joint training programme. Ramiro and 138 other people signed up for the first set of classes.
“The industry is difficult to enter,” said Peña, who completed a course in plant operations and now helps to test wells for a living. “The course gave me a chance.”