OPITO Launches Pilot Training Course for UK Oil & Gas Industry

A pilot training course which provides a new route for skilled technicians to transfer into the significant oil and gas sector from other industries will be launched at Forth Valley College, Falkirk, today (October 14) by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop.

The 12-week Transformation Training course offers a fast-track avenue for skilled workers with an established knowledge base and experience of other industries to switch to the oil and gas industry where there is a long-term need for core crew technicians. The course was developed by OPITO – The Oil & Gas Academy in response to the industry's need for a reliable stream of competent technicians to offset increased demand, natural attrition and redeployment outside the UK Continental Shelf, due to the longevity and global nature of the industry.

OPITO – The Oil & Gas Academy is the UK offshore oil and gas industry's focal point for skills, learning and workforce development. Chairman Mike Horgan said, "This partnership outlines the importance of Government, the learning supply chain and the industry -- through its Academy -- working together to achieve a common goal. The oil and gas industry has played a major role in shaping Scotland's economic past and will continue to do so in its future. Industrial engagement and participation are embedded throughout the program, producing highly-skilled and competent technicians ready to work in the oil and gas industry. This industry has a need for highly skilled people now and into the future."

Twelve learners will start the Mechanical course at Forth Valley College today, one of four OPITO-approved, quality assured training colleges in the UK. As well as classroom-based learning the program, which is being financially supported by Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and Job Centre Plus, will also see trainees gain valuable on-site training at locations including the INEOS chemical plant in Grangemouth.

Four courses in total have been developed covering the key disciplines of Electrical, Instrumentation, Process and Mechanical, meaning that individuals, in future, will not lose their high-value skills set. The Forth Valley College pilot mechanical course includes the Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) and Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), as well as electrical safety awareness and Petroleum Open Learning units.

Upon successful completion, each learner will be presented with an OPITO certificate, accepted by all employers in the North Sea oil and gas industry and their qualifications will be loaded onto the industry-wide Vantage database which allows potential employers to access their training records. The Academy will also continue to support them through the development of CVs, application writing and interviews with potential employers.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said, "This Government is committed to doing everything that it can to help people in the current economic climate through ScotAction, the Scottish Government's skills support package for providing real financial support to businesses and individuals through the recession. It's vitally important that, in a recession, we are able to provide opportunities for people to retrain quickly so that they are able to go from work to work. The OPITO project is a great example of how key partners are doing exactly that by ensuring that individuals have the skills and training they need to respond to industry demands and contribute to Scotland's economic recovery."

Damien Yeates, chief executive of Skills Development Scotland added, "This new innovative fast track training course is a great initiative. Individuals who have worked in manufacturing will get the opportunity to build on the skills they have and transfer these into the oil and gas sector, which is one of Scotland's key industries.

"By making the most of their current knowledge, this course will allow people to push their boundaries a little further by building on their existing skills. In the long term this will allow them to expand their career prospects further and provide them with new challenges."

The production of oil and gas supports almost half a million jobs in the UK, with 380,000 involved in extraction from the waters around the UK and up to another 100,000 involved in the export of oilfield goods and services.

Forth Valley College Principal Linda McKay said, "Once again Forth Valley College and OPITO are working together at the forefront of Scottish education to offer innovative training through a groundbreaking link up with Jobcentre Plus.

"We can think of no better complement and endorsement of this project than for Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop to come along to officially launch the initiative. We hope that our partnership with OPITO and Jobcentre Plus can go from strength to strength and help offer more and more unemployed people in the Forth Valley area an opportunity to get back into work."