Inspiring the next generation

There is no substitute for experience, so the saying goes. Now, a unique collaboration between an Aberdeen city school and an oilfield services company could be the basis for an entirely new approach to fostering talent in the oil and gas sector.

The iAspire programme was developed by Bucksburn Academy to forge closer bonds between students and employers. It came to fruition last year as research showed that less than 30% of Scottish firms had connections with local schools and even fewer offer any form of work experience.

In partnership with Aker Solutions, a 12-week work-experience programme was developed to provide engineering-inclined pupils with an understanding of the disciplines within the oil and gas industry.

Embedded into the students’ school timetables, it allocates each pupil two-hour visits, twice a week, allowing them to spend concentrated time in various areas of the organisation and a total of 48 hours of meaningful, practical work experience.


The programme walks the pupil through Aker Solutions’ project lifecycle with time spent in supply chain, project management, project engineering, quality, inspection, HSE and manufacturing. The manufacturing rotations are spent hands-on in the workshop facilities working on a product through the various stages of production, including risk assessments, kit check, building, testing and verification with the client – a real experience providing a real insight into engineering in the industry.

Bucksburn Academy’s head teacher Kas Mohamed said: “There is nothing more valuable to students than taking part in meaningful work experience and Aker Solutions’ involvement in the iAspire programme has been extremely rewarding for those pupils who wish to become engineers in the oil and gas industry. It has allowed them to seamlessly blend workplace-based learning with their school subjects in an innovative manner.”

Feedback from pupils also highlighted the programme’s value. S6 pupil Emilee Burr said: “The iAspire programme has really benefited me as I have gained key insight into the kind of career I could have after university. It’s been really good to understand the different career paths I could aspire towards with different degree disciplines – I didn’t realise the quantity of options available until taking part in this programme.”

The programme provides an opportunity for Aker Solutions to build on the relationship with the students after the work experience, either through their participation on an Aker Solutions apprenticeship programme or through support during university studies, depending on their vocational interests.

David Clark, Aker Solutions’ regional president of Europe and Africa, said:  “As a company we, like several other energy firms, have supported schools for many years in various guises. Still we recognised there was a need to make our engagement with them even more meaningful if it was to translate into careers and deliver tangible benefits to the pupils, our business and the industry as whole.

Bucksburn Academy

“We embarked on a mission to ask the schools what kind of support they needed and in the end forged a partnership with Bucksburn Academy to provide the oil and gas element of the iAspire programme. It is an innovative initiative which provides engineering-inclined pupils with an understanding of the disciplines within the oil and gas industry.

“We hope that nurturing talent through sustained, relevant and hands-on exposure to our sector will provide the starting block for many young people wanting to join the energy sector.”

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