National College for onshore oil and gas unveiled

12 November 2014

UKOOG, the representative body for the UK onshore oil and Gas industry, is delighted to support the announcement by Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock of a £1.5 million initiative to establish a National College for onshore oil and gas.

Jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the onshore oil and gas industry, the National College will draw together a number of leading education and training institutions and industrial partners to deliver training programmes which will meet the onshore industry’s future skills needs.

Building on the UK’s world-leading offshore heritage, the National College will help the UK to become an international centre of excellence for onshore operations. Its aim is to train the next generation of onshore oil and gas engineers and other specialists, providing first class qualifications and career opportunities for young people.

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. It will be led by the industry to ensure that the training programmes meet industry needs and reflect evolving best practice in drilling, hydraulic fracturing, site development and environmental management.”

The first stage will see the industry develop and refine a business plan for the National College. The business plan will specify the detailed National College structure and governance, the curriculum, and the longer-term funding requirement, including an industry mechanism to provide funds.

The National College will operate a ‘hub-and-spokes’ model, and we are very pleased that the headquarters will be in Blackpool. Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) is already a leading provider of safety, survival and fire training to the offshore oil and gas industry, and its quality proposition is unique: the only organisation holding simultaneous Ofsted Grade 1 (outstanding) and double QAA Commended status. B&FC’s Lancashire Energy HQ will deliver a comprehensive range of qualifications up to Level 6, with facilities including a drill simulator and emergency control simulator.

Ken Cronin added:

“We are excited by the prospect of a National College and that it will be headquartered in Blackpool. 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. The National College will be crucial to developing those skills, and we look forward to working with industry on the next phase of its development.”

A number of other leading institutions will be participating in the National College:

  • The University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton Science Park will deliver a number of industrially informed undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses (Level 4 to Level 7) as well as specialist masters, MRes and PhD programmes. In addition, the University of Chester will undertake research and technology transfer in the areas of process improvement, computational modelling and simulation, environmental monitoring and data and information management. The University has a strong outreach and public understanding of science remit and recent senior appointments further strengthen its expertise in public consultation, impact assessments and regulatory frameworks in this and complementary fields. The University has recently been provisionally allocated funding (£6.8m) to construct an Energy Systems Demonstrator.
  • Redcar and Cleveland College is currently working with the Local Enterprise Partnership, Tees Valley Unlimited, to create a new £7.4m Oil and Gas Academy for the North East, supported by the oil and gas sector and a Local Growth Fund bid. Teesside Oil and Gas Academy will deliver a range of accredited and specialist bespoke courses up to Level 5, and the College will provide additional specialist provision as part of the National College.
  • Highbury College Portsmouth’s Centre of Excellence in Construction, Energy & Sustainable Technologies provides a comprehensive range of accredited and bespoke courses to support entry to and progression in the onshore energy industry. Courses cover construction, environmental technologies, health and safety, and leadership and management. Highbury College is also developing a strong partnership with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, an acknowledged global leader in this industry and located in Calgary, Canada’s hub for oil and gas operations.
  • UK based engineering company Weir Group PLC – the world’s largest supplier of hydraulic fracturing equipment – their supply chain and the University of Strathclyde – the UK’s centre for hydraulic fracturing pump design – will partner with the National College to provide access to the latest industry best practice and the latest research and technology. Weir and Strathclyde will develop simulation systems the National College can use for training and accreditation, and will support the creation of UK industry standards for safe and responsible hydraulic fracturing operations.
  • In addition, we are pleased to be supported by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport.

Matthew Hancock MP, Business, Enterprise & Energy Minister, said:

“Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on. Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs.

“That’s why we are investing in the people behind the projects. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive. At the same time we can make a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.”


Contact: Jason Nisse/Nick Morris 0207 680 6550 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to editors:

Background and key features of the National College

At the end of 2013, UKOOG and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned EY to carry out an assessment of the supply chain and skills requirements of an onshore industry producing natural gas at scale, and the current capacity of the UK to meet those requirements. EY’s assessment was published in April 2014, and drew three main conclusions with respect to skills:

  • There is existing capability in the UK today for drilling and completions; petroleum engineering and geosciences; and planning approvals and permitting issuance, and health, safety and environmental monitoring. It is, however, constrained and will require investment to meet the industry’s needs as production increases.
  • There is currently limited capability in the UK for hydraulic fracturing engineers. The lead time to develop a hydraulic fracturing engineer with the right level of experience could be as long as five years and developing a new training programme could take up to four years.
  • There are already shortages in the related offshore and chemical industries, and therefore a risk that these are further exacerbated by a high level of shale production

The National College will focus on four areas:

  • Providing the specialist skills needed by the industry at Levels 3, 4 and 5, or higher, and training teachers and regulators.
  • In partnership with OPITO, accrediting the courses run by other institutions.
  • Carrying out research and development for improved equipment, materials and processes that will increase the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of operations.
  • Working with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the industry, and to help them make the right subject choices early on.

UKOOG will also be working with OPITO to define a set of skills, qualifications and occupational standards required by operators for staff to work on shale projects. OPITO is the skills organisation for oil and gas and the industry’s focal point for standards, competence and workforce development, and the onshore industry will benefit from its extensive experience. Its work will feed directly into the National College and help ensure that the skills provided are transferrable offshore and globally.

About UKOOG:

UKOOG is the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry, including exploration, production and storage. The organisation’s objectives are to enhance the profile of the onshore industry, promote better and more open dialogue with key stakeholders, deliver industry wide initiatives and programmes and to ensure standards in safety, the environment and operations are maintained to the highest possible level. Membership is open to all companies active in the onshore industry including those involved in the supply chain.