Training up for new job

A project manager has told how support through the Transition Training Fund is helping him improve his chances of furthering his career.

Walter O’Brien-Gilbert was made redundant from oil and gas services company Harkand in May when the firm entered administration.

The 37-year-old applied for support through the Transition Training Fund and is now embarking on training he hopes will lead to him finding work elsewhere.

He said: “I have worked in this sector my entire career and have been doing it for 12 years. Prior to Harkand I worked for Subsea 7, and I worked for Honeywell before that.

“That’s long enough to build credibility, a knowledge base and clientele who know your capabilities, but when you are faced with the potential of going into a different industry, it’s very different.

“Half the time, some of the people you’re speaking to in a different industry don’t know what you’re talking about despite the fact that project management skills are the same across the board.

“People are more inclined to take on someone with industry knowledge who can hit the ground running rather than someone who will take a month or two to get up to speed.”

Through administrators at his previous employer, Walter received information about the Scottish Government’s initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace).

That included information on the Transition Training Fund, administered on behalf of the Scottish Government by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

The married father-of-two was put in touch with SDS careers adviser Ann Cadiz who offered some advice on taking the next steps in his career and how he could access support through the Transition Training Fund.

The fund is open to anyone who has worked in the oil and gas sector or in the oil and gas supply chain as an employee or contractor and has either been made redundant or is at risk of redundancy.

Walter O'Brien-Gilbert

Applicants must be actively looking for work and be able to show that the training they wish to undertake will help them find a new job. Applicants must also live in Scotland, and have either worked in Scotland in their current or previous job or be returning to Scotland to look for work from an overseas post.

Walter said: “Ann has given me good advice about gaps in my activities to date. I did some research and after discussing it with Ann, I came up with a proposition for training that we agreed would be right for me.

“I’m registering with the Project Management Institute and I’m doing three different qualifications: Project Management Professional, PRINCE2 and Agile Certified Practitioner.

“The intent of these three is that not only do you have the experience, but you’ve got the certification that cuts across different industries such as IT, rail, construction and engineering.

“Depending on the industry, most employers expect professional qualifications, so if I have those qualifications, albeit with experience in a different industry, it will hopefully get me to the table and they’ll be interested in hearing what I have to say.”

Walter admits he is still at the early stages of his journey, but is hopeful the training will improve his career prospects, and has advice for others going through a similar experience.

“Following an experience like this, everyone tends to go into survival mode,” he said.

“With my employer, we didn’t see it coming and were simply told that the business couldn’t be sustained. But sometimes, it’s best to take a moment to reflect. Identify your short-term needs and your short-term goals, and after that, look at the bigger picture.

“We all have ideas of what we’d like to do, but we tend to procrastinate when we’ve got a stable platform such as gainful employment. It’s best to assess what all your desires are, what you can achieve in a two or three-month period, and then how you can go about achieving the other ones.

“People should take a few weeks to get their head straight and then plan and strategise about what they want to do. The opportunity is there through the Transition Training Fund to do something different and I’d recommend to people that they take that opportunity.”

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