Rewarding Career Ahead for “New Blood” of the Energy Industry

Rewarding Career Ahead for “New Blood” of the Energy Industry

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02 July 2015

Energy industry leaders in the East of England told students completing an energy programme that their transferable skills would offer them long-term employability in "a wonderfully rewarding career.”

Skills from the Energy Skills Foundation Programme delivered at Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College would set them up for the "long game” of the energy industry that was "alive and kicking” worldwide.

Eighteen students were presented with awards and certificates at a gala dinner of industry leaders and employers at Zest at Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton.

They were the "new blood of the industry” – the engineers and technicians of the future – with skills to take to projects across the world, they were told.

Matt Oxley, business stream director for Stork, which set up a new operational base at Lowestoft earlier this year, said despite a challenging economic climate, one in 80 people in the UK were employed in the energy industry in a workforce paid about two and a half times the average UK salary.

"There are opportunities for employment. There are 12,000 new entries required for the future despite the decline of the UK Continental Shelf.

"The decommissioning market is estimated to be valued between £30 and £70bn with more than 200 platforms in the southern sector that will need to be decommissioned.”

About 35 per cent of the oil & gas workforce were working on projects abroad, he said.

"Your skills are transferable. These skills will be with you for life.

"There are plenty of local opportunities - everything from offshore renewables, oil & gas, nuclear and maybe onshore unconventional oil & gas.”

The energy industry also offers employment for people with other skills, for example chefs, accountants, and lawyers, he said.

The industry-led course was launched at Lowestoft College in 2009 and Great Yarmouth College in 2012.

Its steering group is chaired by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) and Skills for Energy, and made up of representatives from both colleges, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and the National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN), who continue to develop and drive the course forward.

Many of its alumni are working for industry leaders including Perenco, SSE and 3sun.

Some of this year’s cohort have secured apprenticeships, one with RWE and another the Ardagh group, or are also moving on the Level 3 courses in operations and maintenance, engineering and other courses.

Andrew Denton, asset superintendent at Perenco, said the energy industry in the East of England was "alive and kicking”.

"In terms of long term employability, the skills and the experience you get are easily portable into different areas, which give you fantastic employability.”

Opportunities for engineers and technicians lie ahead for the "new blood” with longevity of the industry.
The awards were presented by Nigel Spencer, of ECITB.

Student of the Year at Lowestoft College was Skye Birch. Most Improved Student was William Johnson.

At Great Yarmouth College, Student of the Year was Liam Woolston with George King named as Most improved Student.

Skye Birch produced a consistently high standard of work while studying the course alongside a full-time job, said tutor Bob Beard.

"He always maintained focus in the classroom and continued to make progress.”

He was a team leader who represented characteristics desirable to any engineering company.

Skye, 29, returned to study after careers as a rep for Thomas Cook abroad and gym instructor for Bourne Leisure, a job continues to do alongside his studies, working a full 40-hour week.
He decided it was time for a new and challenging career in renewables and is aiming for offshore wind.

"The course was excellent because it gives you a taste of all the different energy industries – oil & gas, nuclear, renewables. I really enjoyed renewables. It is the future and will be significant in our local economy.”

"I am even thinking about going to university next, which I never thought I would do. My father went to university to retrain as a social worker in his mid 40s and is a role model.”
Skye is progressing to a level 3 BTEC diploma in operations and maintenance.

Liam Woolston, Great Yarmouth College Student of the Year, had practical and theoretical knowledge "second to none in the group”, said tutor Wayne Stannett.
He had a professional approach to the coursework and visits and was a speaker and facilitator at employer events.

Team player Liam, 25, who returned to learning to qualify for a career with prospects, secured an apprenticeship in Norwich with the Ardagh Group after two weeks’ work experience there.
Most improved student at Lowestoft College was William Johnson. He has a four-hour round trip daily to college from Martham to Lowestoft. "I’ve spent the equivalent of 18 days on buses!”

William has ambitions to be a maintenance engineer after completing a level 3 diploma. His mother, Wendy Llewellyn, said she was proud of William’s focus and holding down a weekend job after his long days, leaving home at 6.30am to start the college day and returning home at 7pm.

Mr Beard said: "He should be a target for companies.”

Most improved student at Great Yarmouth George King is progressing to a level 3 course.

Mr Stannett described him as "highly professional and highly employable”.

He had maintained high attendance despite surgery and given his all to his course and GCSEs as well as paid employment. He was respected by the group and a key speaker at EEEGR’s SNS2015 conference.

Lowestoft College students were Skye Birch, Lawson Craigo-Moore, Reece Edwards-King, Harry Farringdon, Jordan Grimmer, William Johnson, Alex Lown, Alex Mathers, Joshua Rousseau, Joshua Salter, Oliver Sadler and Rhys Wilson.

Great Yarmouth College students were Harley Blaxell, Shaun Denton, Alex Garford-Turner, Jack Green, George King, Conor Nixon, Callum Raywood, Amber Riddings, Charles Rounce, Ethan Scally, Antony Shiers, Toby Stewart and Liam Woolston.

Great Yarmouth student Alex Garford-Turner plans to be a mechanical engineer and is moving to Loughborough after securing an apprenticeship with RWE where he will study for HNC and HND qualifications.