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Tyneside teen joins one of the UK’s most successful oil & gas apprenticeship schemes

A teenager from Tyneside has become the first from her region to secure a place on one of the UK’s most successful apprenticeship programmes. Robyn Burn, an 18-year-old from South Shields in the North East of England, starts on the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP) at North East Scotland College (NESCol) in Aberdeen today (Monday, 3rd September).

Robyn, who is undertaking a process operations apprenticeship, is one of 105 people beginning 21 months of study at NESCol and Edinburgh College to gain nationally recognised qualifications in the first phase of the programme. This is almost double the intake number of 2016.

Once successfully completed, the apprentices will receive two years of on-the-job training at one of 19 sponsoring companies. This year, EnQuest and Serica Energy have joined the scheme; other businesses include BP, Nexen, Wood, Aker Solutions and Worley Parsons.

Since OGTAP began in 1998, more than 2,000 people have entered the oil and gas sector through the scheme. It is managed by OPITO on behalf of the oil and gas industry in partnership with the Engineering Construction Training Board (ECITB).

Robyn decided to apply for OGTAP after attending one of the ‘Girls in OGTAP’ events, designed to encourage more women to apply. She said: “I found the evening really helpful as we were shown around the college facility by OGTAP apprentices where we had the chance to look at the control equipment and speak to people already working in the sector.

“I realised that the opportunities the apprenticeship route offers through the sponsoring companies would suit me best. It’s a great feeling to have been successfully accepted onto the scheme, making the move to Aberdeen and embarking on such an exciting career.”

The new apprentices start their careers as the sector is beginning to stabilise, according to a recent report from industry body, Oil & Gas UK. Its Workforce Report 2018 highlighted that that total employment is expected to remain steady and rise slightly this year, with an increase across direct, indirect and induced employment up from 280,000 in 2017, to 282,700.

Earlier this summer, OPITO announced it is leading on a new UKCS skills strategy with Robert Gordon University’s Oil & Gas Institute to support the industry as it moves towards robotics, artificial intelligence and digitisation. It will take a longer term look at the future of UK skills requirements to ensure the sector is prepared to retain and attract the next generation of professionals.

OPITO CEO John McDonald said: “It is very encouraging to see such a big increase in the number of apprentices who are starting their training at NESCol and Edinburgh College. There are now 19 companies involved in the programme, including first time participants EnQuest and Serica Energy. This highlights the number of businesses that can see the benefit of investing in the next generation through the training OGTAP delivers.

“Looking to the future, our recent UKCS Workforce Dynamics Review highlighted that 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. The skills strategy which is being developed will help to ensure workforce training requirements are in place to meet these future needs and support the sustainability of the industry.”