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Oil and gas apprentices meet Energy Minister as scheme celebrates 20th year

Oil and gas apprentices met with Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse at SPE Offshore Europe 2019 in Aberdeen today as the successful Oil & Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP) welcomes its 20th intake of trainees.

OGTAP is co-managed by OPITO and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) on behalf of the energy sector. More than 2,000 trainees have completed the four-year programme to secure work in the industry.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse said: “I am delighted to celebrate the success of the OGTAP programme, now in its 20th year, and supported by 20 companies, highlighting the number of businesses that can see the benefit of investing in the next generation to support the energy sector.

“A recent review by OPITO and Robert Gordon University highlighted there could be up to 40,000 new people needed over the next 20 years, including 10,000 in posts that don’t exist today as the industry moves further into utilising artificial intelligence, robotics and digitisation and embraces opportunities arising from the energy transition.

“In Scotland we are delivering more apprenticeships than ever before with a record number of starts in 2018/19. This year we will be delivering 29,000 Modern Apprenticeship starts across the economy and this total will include over 1300 Graduate Apprenticeships.

“That context is why I warmly welcome and recognise the skills being developed through apprenticeship programmes such as OGTAP which will help to ensure workforce training requirements are in place to meet Scotland’s future skills needs and support the sustainability of the industry as we transition to a net-zero emissions economy.”

John McDonald, CEO of OPITO, said: “Since its inception 20 years ago, OGTAP has provided a springboard for thousands of people looking to pursue a career within this innovative sector.”

There are 20 businesses currently involved in sponsoring OGTAP including E&P operators BP, Chrysaor and CNOOC International, as well as supply chain companies such as Aker Solutions and Wood who provide training placements following college studies. A total of 103 new trainees were this week welcomed into the programme.

Emma Proctor 24, from Montrose, is one of the new 2019 intake. “When I heard I’d made it onto the course, I was amazed and excited,” she said. “So many people apply for OGTAP each year, so to make it through the selection process was truly a great feeling.

“Prior to applying, I’d been trying to get a job in the oil and gas sector after gaining a HNC in Engineering Systems last year, but I kept getting knocked back because I have no experience. However, a friend encouraged me to apply for OGTAP because it has the theory aspect and provides on the job training. For me, this is the perfect solution and having an employer at the end of the programme is ideal.”

Donald Reid completed his OGTAP apprenticeship in 2005 and has continued to work within the sector. He is currently an operations process technician at BP.

He said: “The OGTAP route is an invaluable first step into an industry which has proven to be both rewarding and enjoyable. With hard work, effort and commitment, the scheme provides a solid foundation upon which to build and succeed in the oil and gas world. Having the qualifications and experience OGTAP provides has really opened me up to so many opportunities and helped my career to progress.”

A series of films has also been launched today (Wednesday 4thSeptember) to encourage school pupils across the UK to consider the energy sector as a career path.

With support from sponsoring companies, OPITO has produced the ‘OGTAP Champions’ films which will be shared with schools, colleges and career development agencies around the country.

The six short films feature interviews with apprentices at different stages of their training, providing answers to some of the key questions a young person might have about the scheme. Topics include the application process, college work, as well as living away from home for the first time.

The films also include a day-in-the-life snapshot of one of the trainee’s routine on CNOOC International’s Buzzard platform which is located in the central North Sea. Other episodes provide a look around one of the training colleges as well as the accommodation provided.

John McDonald added: “The OGTAP Champions film has been designed to inspire and inform potential applicants around the UK. In particular it is aimed at those who live out with the major energy hubs and have less exposure to the vast and exciting career opportunities it can provide. The apprentices interviewed have shared their own experiences and are fantastic ambassadors for the programme and the industry. This peer-to-peer approach will help the next generation to evaluate the apprenticeship route and consider a rewarding future career as the industry progresses the energy transition.”