A group of 26 unemployed individuals from Gateshead have become the first to graduate from a new oil, gas and renewables academy after taking part in a pilot programme, which delivered training tailored to existing vacancies in industry and landed a large proportion employment.
The trainees have completed a bespoke, three-week fire protection and rope access training programme delivered by Gateshead College, UK Total Solutions (UKTS) and parent company, Barrier Ltd. The training programme was piloted through the Oil Gas and Renewables academy delivered by the college.
Thirteen of the group who graduated and met the standards required will now join Barrier’s workforce based at its Wallsend facility. The remainder will have the opportunity to complete a one week work placement at Barrier to help advance their skills and will also be placed on its database to be considered for future work.
The academy, which was created thanks to a strategic partnership between UKTS and Gateshead College, equips trainees with the competencies and qualifications required to complete projects utilising rope access – a skill in short supply due to a lack of investment in competence assessment over the last decade.
A large number of people are expected to pass through its academy each year and will offer practical on the job experience for high achievers in competence certification on its operational projects throughout the UK.
The strategic partnership with Gateshead College will provide the oil, gas and renewable sectors with a talent pipeline of skilled workers capable of moving into employment and demonstrating the capabilities required by major oil and gas operators.
Nadine Hudspeth director of marketing and communications at Gateshead College said; “The Oil Gas and Renewables Academy not only supports skilled employment in the region, it also addresses skills gaps within North East industries.
“Our partnership with UKTS allows us the opportunity to develop the best training programmes to benefit learners and employers, providing career prospects and a highly skilled workforce.
“Gateshead College is thrilled at the feedback from UKTS on the success of the academy’s pilot scheme and we look forward to it continuing, growing and contributing to our local economy.”
Trainees spend 12 weeks at Gateshead College and UKTS’s academy, undertaking their specific trade training at its 7,000 sq ft facility before undergoing IRATA Rope Access training. They then progress to a three-day competency assessment (TRACC) to certify their ability to work safely on ropes whilst carrying out trade activities. Training is provided by rope access specialists who, having worked for the majority of blue-chip oil and gas companies, fully understand the specific tasks required in the industry.
The academy, based at Princesway in Gateshead, is set to officially open in September following a six-figure investment in the purpose built facility. UKTS became part of Barrier Group earlier this year, which helped to increase the capabilities and services within the group while helping the business grow its presence in the offshore industry.
Mick Flaherty, managing director at UKTS, said: “The first group to pass through our academy have gained a wide range of valuable skills that will serve them extremely well when moving into industry. A proportion of the trainees have in fact already moved into full-time employment and will be putting their new training to good use for Barrier Ltd.”
Robert Bowles, chairman of Barrier Group, said: “It’s encouraging to see that the programme UKTS and Gateshead College have devised is working well in practice. It is extremely important that training providers deliver programmes with a career path in mind and the culture of ‘training for trainings sake’ is abandoned and replaced with Training for Job’s.
“Within a couple of years the academy will have helped produce hundreds of capable employees ready to move straight into the world of work and help ease the industry-wide skills shortage.”