1st March 2023
Lara is in her final year as an OGTAP apprentice. Currently working on the Clair platform with her sponsor company, bp, Lara has big dreams for her future.
I’ve always been interested in the energy industry. Various members of my close family work offshore, and with living so close to Grangemouth growing up, I was always curious about where our energy came from and how the process worked.
I first learned about the scheme through a colleague of my dad who was completing his apprenticeship at the time. I applied for OGTAP, alongside various university courses, during my final year of secondary school. I was considering studying chemical engineering at university but decided a more practical style of learning would better suit me.
I’m currently working offshore on the Clair platform with bp. We work twelve-hour shift patterns. The handover process between shifts is really important – it tells us what our back-to-back has encountered and anything we need to be aware of for our shift.
We meet with our supervisor who delegates tasks for the day. As an apprentice, my independent tasks typically include daily readings, and more technical tasks such as adjustments to chokes, and chemical injections. While these are small jobs, they’re helping me build a better understanding of the role. Alongside a more senior team member, I can get involved in bigger jobs such as leak testing, isolations and start-up and shutdown of the facility.
I like getting out and completing practical tasks – isolating a system or flushing and purging systems of hydrocarbons. That being said, the smaller jobs which I complete independently give me the opportunity to explore the plant and gain a greater understating of how the platform operates.
Although I wasn’t keen on the thought of university lectures, the theoretical learning on OGTAP was entirely different and exceeded my expectations. We attended college for three days per week – but it was much more than being read a PowerPoint all day.
I was always engaged in each class, whether it was peer discussions, Q&A with our instructors, getting stuck into mathematical calculations or quizzes to consolidate learning.
I moved away from home and into university accommodation to begin the OGTAP apprenticeship, and I made true friends for life. I also hugely developed my interpersonal skills – learning about how different types of people work. This remains useful today, grasping how different team members work and how best I can work alongside them.
Another highlight is the number of practical activities we had the opportunity to undertake. With a breadth of knowledge under my belt, I knew I could confidently enter the workplace.
Thinking back to my first trip with my sponsor company, I remember thinking “Wow, I actually have an understanding of what’s going on here.” I wasn’t intimidated by the experience because of the comprehensive training I received during my time at college.
The college encouraged a collaborative learning environment. One question would quickly turn into a big group discussion, everyone sharing ideas, areas we’re struggling with and how we can support each other.
All the instructors truly went above and beyond. Whenever we asked a question, they would not only answer them but also demonstrate the answer practically – whether it was finding a video or drawing a diagram.
The opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ allowed me to start my independent life much earlier than I thought I would have. It was a real opportunity to ‘grow up’ and feel like an adult, managing my own finances each month.
The industry is changing rapidly, even in the four years I’ve been in it. It’s exciting to see how we’re developing and what the future may look like. From a young age, all I heard about was oil and gas – but now I’m much more exposed to the wider energy mix, from carbon capture, utilisation and storage to hydrogen.
The training I’ve received throughout my apprenticeship will allow me to move into renewable energy sectors if I wish. Coming into the industry at a time of so much uncertainty, many people in my cohort had questions about what their future looked like. Throughout college, we received a lot of reassurance and an understanding of just how transferable our skills will be.
There’s a lot of big questions and decisions to come – but I’m eager to see the role I’ll play in the future of energy.
I’m enthusiastic to see where my career takes me. Right now, I’m working on an outside operator. In the future, I’d like to explore control room opportunities and hopefully, in a couple of years’ time, I’ll gain that experience.
How many years has the energy industry been around? It’s going to be here for many, many years to come. As we continue with the energy transition and move towards a net zero future, there’s going to be many more, brand new opportunities that are super exciting and appealing.
If you’re hesitant about applying, just do it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I can’t imagine having taken another route.
When it comes to beginning the scheme in September, everybody is new to the experience and you’re all learning together. You’re not expected to know everything – you’ve joined the scheme to learn, train and gain an understanding of the industry you’ve chosen to enter.
Remember, put yourself out there and be yourself. This is an opportunity to make friends for life, everybody is feeling the same (especially in the first few weeks) – so start conversations, get to know your course mates.
I have the opportunity to apply for a trainee scheme with my sponsor company. From there, I’ll spend the next two or three years building on what I’ve learned during my apprenticeship, continuing to develop my understanding with more independence and exposure. Then, I’ll be able to apply for a full-time technical position.
OGTAP 2023 recruitment is open. Find out more and apply: https://www.ogtap.co.uk/apply