Employers asked to support oil and gas apprenticeships


9th November 2015

NORTH Sea oil and gas companies are being asked to maintain their support for technical apprenticeships available to young people in the UK oil and gas industry during the current downturn.

The call comes on the relaunch of the industry’s apprenticeship programme – now known as the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP).

Operators and major contractors have invested more than £140million into OGTAP, formally the Upstream Oil and Gas Technician Training Scheme, since its formation in 1999. Now backed by 19 companies it is one of the biggest industry-led apprenticeship programmes of its kind in the UK and boasts one of the highest achievement rates at 93%.

Around 100 trainee positions are available annually on the scheme. Today, (November 9th) as the programme launches under its new name, the organisers behind it are calling on the oil and gas industry to maintain its support in the current downturn.

“Estimates suggest remaining reserves within the UKCS could provide energy for another 35 years. Despite recent challenges, the oil and gas industry remains a key industry for the UK, sustaining thousands of jobs and offering considerable local and international employment opportunities. There is a need to continue to support the intake of apprentices and graduates - which are the future lifeblood of the industry,” said David Cook, chairman of the OGTAP steering group.

“The recruitment and training of technicians as well as graduates is critical to developing and retaining the workforce we need to continue to take on the world’s toughest energy challenges and adopting a fully integrated industry approach to attracting new talent is more important than ever in the current climate.

“The programme provides a highly effective and efficient means of attracting and developing new technicians whilst reducing the burden on individual employers. Participation can help make organisations more productive and competitive by directly addressing their own skills gaps whilst supporting the development of a new generation of highly skilled and motivated technicians.”

OGTAP is managed by skills for oil and gas organisation OPITO and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). Split into two phases, the programme sees students take part in a 21 month full time course at one of the industry-appointed colleges before embarking on a two year worksite placement.

It covers four key disciplines including process operations, electrical, instrument and control maintenance but can also be adapted to suit identified skills needs across all sectors.

“The programme attracts a significant number of applications from young people every year. The qualifications they gain are recognised internationally so the apprentices have the ability to work anywhere in the world and, as such, are highly sought after by employers,” added John McDonald, managing director of OPITO.

“In order to continue providing opportunities for these young people and to help them take the first step towards a long, meaningful career in the oil and gas sector, we need the industry to maintain its support.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, said: “We certainly welcome efforts to provide positive training opportunities that can attract tomorrow’s oil and gas workforce. These are challenging times but we still need people with the right skills to drive forward our sector which will continue to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and help meet the UK’s energy needs for years to come.”

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