The Tees Valley is set to play a major role in the Government’s plan to expand the UK oil and gas industry with the announcement that Redcar & Cleveland College will be part of a new multi-million pound national training hub.
Redcar & Cleveland College is one of three colleges from across the country to be included in the plans to establish a National College for oil and gas, with the aim of providing specialist training and qualifications to workers both here and overseas and provide the next generation of specialists.
The college is already working with Tees Valley Unlimited to create a new £7.4m oil and gas academy on itscampus in Redcar, supported by the oil and gas sector and Teesside University.
However, the announcement that it will also be part of the Government’s new National College for onshore oil and gas will cement its reputation in the provision of international training and will drive further investment into the region.
Gary Groom, Principal of Redcar & Cleveland College, said: “We are extremely excited to be part of the new National College for oil and gas. It will put Redcar & Cleveland College at the heart of international specialist training and it has the potential to have a huge impact on the Tees Valley economy and the wider North East region.
“We will be providing specialist training to workers currently in the sector and the next generation, enabling people to gain higher level qualifications, which will boost their job prospects and earning power and will help to fill the growing skills gap.
“It’s an increasingly important sector both in this region and globally, so we are delighted to position the North East at the heart of it.
“This facility will be part of the National College and therefore will be accessible to all UK residents, delivering economic impact for Redcar, the Tees Valley and the region.”
Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock announced the plans for the National College last night (Tuesday) alongside UKOOG, the representative body for the UK’s onshore oil and gas sector.
As part of the National College, Redcar & Cleveland College will deliver a range of accredited higher education courses up to Level 5, including Drilling, Petroleum Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, Quality Management Systems, Piping, and Pipeline Engineering.
Other partners in the National College will be Blackpool and the Fylde College, which will be the headquarters, along with The University of Chester, The University of Strathclyde and Weir Group, Natural Environment Research Council and the British Geology Survey, Highbury College, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport, and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board.
Redcar & Cleveland College already offers oil and gas training to overseas workers from Libya, but its bid for funding from the Local Growth Fund to build a specialist academy and its inclusion in the National College will enable it to expand its offer further and would increase its facilities and equipment. It has ambitions to eventually run training centres overseas.
George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF Energy, said: “The college will continue the North East’s legacy of developing skilled people and attracting companies keen to invest in and utilise the region’s workforce. It will also support the North East’s excellent supply chain, which has the ability to meet the requirements of the emerging onshore oil and gas industry.”
Councillor Mark Hannon, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Redcar & Cleveland Council, said: “That Redcar & Cleveland College is set to become a key player in the National College for onshore oil and gas is fantastic news for the borough.
“As the North East’s first oil and gas academy, the facilities and expertise on offer will enable people from the area and beyond to realise their ambitions. They will become the next generation of oil and gas engineers, helping the North East to become an international centre of excellence.”
Redcar MP Ian Swales said: “I have been fighting on behalf of Redcar & Cleveland College to ensure they play a key role in the project. Our area already has expertise and attracts students from as far as Africa and the Middle East. The major investment in Redcar will provide topclass opportunities for local people and a big boost to the local economy.”
Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director for Local Enterprise Partnership Tees Valley Unlimited, said: “Tees Valley has a first-rate reputation for developing highly-skilled workers for the oil and gas sector.
“Redcar and Cleveland College being chosen to be a pivotal part of the National College for onshore oil and gas further cements the area’s standing in training specialists for a sector key to the region’s and, indeed, the country’s future economic prospects.”
The National College will focus on four key areas:
- Providing specialist skills at Levels 3, 4, and 5, or higher, and training teachers and regulators
- In partnership with Opito, accrediting courses run by other institutions
- Carrying out research and development for improved equipment
- Working with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the sector
This multi-million pound initiative is being jointly sponsored by the onshore oil and gas industry and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The first stage will see the industry develop and refine a business plan for the National College. The plan will specify the detailed structure of the college, the curriculum and the longer-term funding requirement, including industry mechanism to provide funds.
Ken Cronin, CEO of UKOOG, said: “Our vision is of a thriving onshore oil and gas industry employing highly-skilled British workers and operating as an international centre of excellence.
“A National College will help to train the next generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, providing first class qualifications and career opportunities for young people.
“Onshore oil and gas could provide major economic and energy security benefits to the UK, but it will only do so if there are skilled employees trained for the key roles in all parts of the industry.”
Kath Taylor, Redcar & Cleveland College’s Chair of Governors, said: “We’ve created a wonderful opportunity for people in Redcar, the Tees Valley and the North East to find work in the booming oil and gas industry and for those already experienced tofurther enhance their careers.
“There’s a huge skills shortfall in onshore and offshore oil and gas extraction and these courses will help generate the workforce for the future to fill vacancies both nationally and internationally.”