AS SCOTLAND marks National Apprenticeship Week, OPITO the skills body for the oil and gas industry has announced it received more than 3,500 applications for this year’s Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, showing the strength of interest from young people wanting to work in the sector.
Delivered by OPITO on behalf of the industry, the apprenticeship scheme has brought nearly 1,400 young people into the oil and gas sector in the last decade, creating a grassroots solution to the industry-wide skills shortage.
Operators and major contractors have invested more than £120million into the programme since it was established. Now backed by more than 15 companies and one of the biggest industry-led MA programmes of its kind in the UK, around 100 trainee positions are available annually on the scheme which boasts one of the best achievement rates in the country at 93%, compared to the national average of around 65%.
Larraine Boorman, managing director of OPITO UK said: “The significant volume of applications we received for this year’s intake demonstrates the huge interest there is in pursuing a technical career in the oil and gas industry.
"Apprenticeship schemes are an excellent example of how an industry can proactively tackle its skills issues. Due to the high volume and standard of these applications, we are looking at expanding the routes into our industry so graduates with the right mix of skills can still achieve exciting and rewarding career opportunities.”
OPITO’s apprenticeship scheme offers a range of disciplines including process operations, electrical, instrument and control maintenance.
Split into two phases, the programme sees students take part in a 21 month full time course at one of the industry-appointed colleges in Aberdeen, Forth Valley or Edinburgh, before embarking on a two year worksite placement.
“The qualifications apprentices gain are recognised internationally – so they have the skills required to work anywhere in the world”, Mrs Boorman added.
“We're running a raft of initiatives that are absolutely geared to attracting the future oil and gas workforce. It’s crucial that we continue to work with schools and encourage the uptake of STEM subjects, so school leavers are equipped with the basic skills required to enter the industry.
“As the skills body for the industry, we are keen to ensure that future generations of workers are aware of the opportunities in the sector and we believe that it is critical that industry plays a role in maintaining students’ levels of interest in the sector from a young age.”
More information on the upstream oil and gas industry technician training scheme can be found www.opito.com
Scott Stage, 22, beat off competition from students at three colleges cross the UK to win the OPITO Apprentice of the Year award, a top honour in the North Sea oil and gas industry’s official modern apprentice programme.
Scott, originally from Aberdeen, is studying Instrument and Control at Edinburgh College.
He said: “The scheme has been fantastic and has gone a long way to equipping me with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in the oil and gas industry.
“My brother had previously taken part in the apprenticeship and is now working in the industry so I know from his experience that if you work hard and take the opportunities it gives you, coming through this scheme successfully means you are very highly regarded in the industry so it opens a lot of doors.
“The scheme is hugely popular and I applied several times before being lucky enough to get a place but it has absolutely been worth persevering. My ultimate career aim is to be an offshore installation manager and while it might be quite a few years off, this has absolutely been the best start I could have hoped for in my career.”
Scott will embark on the second phase of his apprenticeship in May 2013 where he will receive on-the-job training with a sponsoring company, being mentored and working alongside experienced staff to gain job specific skills.
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