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UK energy industry relaunches apprenticeship program

Employers asked to support oil and gas apprenticeships.
UK energy industry relaunches apprenticeship program

North Sea oil and gas companies are being asked to maintain their support for technical apprenticeships available to young people in the UK oil and gas industry during the current downturn.

The call comes on the relaunch of the industry’s apprenticeship program – now known as the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Program (OGTAP).

Operators and major contractors have invested more than US$211.5 million (£140million) into OGTAP, formally the Upstream Oil and Gas Technician Training Scheme, since its formation in 1999. Now backed by 19 companies it is one of the biggest industry-led apprenticeship programs of its kind in the UK and boasts one of the highest achievement rates at 93%.

Around 100 trainee positions are available annually on the scheme. The program launches under its new name, the organizers behind it are calling on the oil and gas industry to maintain its support in the current downturn.

“Estimates suggest remaining reserves within the UKCS could provide energy for another 35 years,” said David Cook, chairman of the OGTAP steering group. “Despite recent challenges, the oil and gas industry remains a key industry for the UK, sustaining thousands of jobs and offering considerable local and international employment opportunities. There is a need to continue to support the intake of apprentices and graduates - which are the future lifeblood of the industry.”

“The program provides a highly effective and efficient means of attracting and developing new technicians whilst reducing the burden on individual employers,” said Cook. “Participation can help make organizations more productive and competitive by directly addressing their own skills gaps whilst supporting the development of a new generation of highly skilled and motivated technicians.”

OGTAP is managed by skills for oil and gas organization OPITO and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). Split into two phases, the program sees students take part in a 21 month full time course at one of the industry-appointed colleges before embarking on a two year worksite placement.

It covers four key disciplines including process operations, electrical, instrument and control maintenance but can also be adapted to suit identified skills needs across all sectors.

“The program attracts a significant number of applications from young people every year,” said John McDonald, managing director of OPITO.The qualifications they gain are recognized internationally so the apprentices have the ability to work anywhere in the world and, as such, are highly sought after by employers.” 

Image from iStock.

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