Education for the future

It’s by no means a quick fix, but the salvation of oil and gas could well lie in a new relationship between education and industry with an international recognition system the ultimate objective.

And the requirement for new, suitably qualified employees in the industry should remain high, despite recent job cuts and contract changes.

Rulzion Rattray, director of The Oil & Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS), sees a structured approach to the training of young people and career changers as key to future employment in oil and gas.

Rulzion Rattray

“It used to be a no-brainer; get into oil and gas and make a career for yourself and make money,” he said.

“But the industry changed irrevocably in 2015, the goose is looking withered and the golden egg has lost its sheen.

“It is widely predicted that thousands of jobs will continue to go and that the good times are a thing of the past.

“You would not be alone in thinking that oil and gas is a dying industry. Yet, somehow, the wheels keep on turning and, from despair, there is a real opportunity to create a leaner, ultra-competitive workforce for the industry’s next phase.

“The Wood Commission’s final report specified that we should aim to ‘achieve a culture of real partnership between employers and education, where employers view themselves as co-investors and co-designers rather than simply customers’ and this is crucial as we move forward.”

OGAS, which was established in 2012 to support Scottish Government objectives for the energy sector, is working with both employers and education and training providers, and Mr Rattray senses a genuine desire for change from both sides.

“We are dealing with key people from both the demand side and the supply side and I can honestly say that both want to do everything in their power to fit in with the Wood Commission ideal of ‘real partnership’,” he said.

“A crucial part of that is a clear need for a more coherent approach to the development of industry wide recognition systems for training and development in oil and gas.

“We need to establish a transparent system which will place an internationally recognised academic value on learning in the form of SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework) credits and levels for existing and new industry training programmes.

“This will result in significant benefits for the oil and gas industry and it will also meet many of the requirements of the Scottish Government’s Skills for Scotland Strategy, while helping achieve this culture of real partnership between employers and education.”

Established to support Scottish Government objectives for the energy sector, OGAS brings together existing skills and expertise with partner institutions and training providers to facilitate innovative and effective oil and gas training and education, supporting the next generation of industry experts to keep Scotland at the forefront of the oil and gas sector.

Its partner institutions are the University of Aberdeen, Forth Valley College, Heriot-Watt University, North East College Scotland, Robert Gordon University and ASET International Oil & Gas Training Academy.

Mr Rattray added: “There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. We must make sure we address the crucial training issues now, and at OGAS we hope to help facilitate these relationships as we move forward.”

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