Sophie Ewen started the Oil & Gas Apprenticeship Programme (OGTAP) in 2016, following the Process Engineering discipline.
Having finished the scheme in May 2020, Sophie has continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a key worker on the Captain WPP platform, operated by Ithaca Energy.
What inspired you to apply for the OGTAP scheme?
I’m originally from Cullen and growing up, I knew a lot of people, including family members, who worked offshore. Having so many connections to the industry definitely encouraged me to apply.
I’d always enjoyed STEM subjects and the apprenticeship seemed like the best way to enhance and build on the strengths I’d started to develop at school.
What has been the best element of your apprenticeship so far?
The on-site training was definitely the most exciting part of the apprenticeship. Getting to utilise the theory-based learning from college and put my knowledge into practice in a real-life, offshore environment was really rewarding.
Was there any part of the apprenticeship that you found particularly challenging or surprising?
For me, the most challenging part was adjusting to rotation and adapting to a new work/life balance. A lot of my friends have 9 to 5 jobs, so I had to learn how to occupy myself in my time off.
I was also surprised with how important good communication and teamwork was when on-site – it’s an aspect of the job I really enjoy. When everyone comes together to solve a problem and optimise the production of the asset, it can be really rewarding.
There’s currently a big focus in the industry around the energy transition. How do you feel an apprenticeship prepares you for working in the wider energy industry for example, in the oil and gas industry, but also potentially moving into renewables?
The OGTAP scheme is great because it starts with the basics, meaning everyone who does the training will be equipped with a broad skillset before focusing more closely on a specific discipline.
The certificates and qualifications I have gained from the programme will allow me to diversify into different parts in the energy industry like renewables, but also into other sectors such as refineries and distilleries.
Once you’ve done the training and gained the qualifications, your options are endless.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying?
I would just say go for it – take the chance and do something different!
It’s a great experience on a highly sought-after course that’s recognised by major energy companies and will open the door to a huge number of job opportunities.
It can also provide you with job leads when you complete your training as you already have contacts and a really good understanding of the assets of your sponsor company. I was really thankful to be retained by Ithaca Energy when I graduated.
It can also give you access to further training courses such as firefighting. A lot of the training provides you with skills and knowledge that will be beneficial you whilst working offshore but are also useful to have as basic life skills. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth and progression if you go through the OGTAP scheme.