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“The only way to make a dent in the skills challenges is to work collaboratively across the project life cycle.”

This was one of the key themes that came out of Andy Brown’s recent visit to the Shetland Islands.

The Interim CEO joined a team from the ECITB that visited the Shetland Islands at the end of April to witness first-hand the breadth of activities that were either happening or in the planning by a number of different organisations.

These include major power grid interconnections, up to 600MW of onshore wind, 2.8GW of offshore wind, refitting of the oil terminal, decarbonising existing facilities and installing a potential hydrogen production plant.

Andy said: “In essence, the Shetland Islands represent everything that is happening across the rest of the UK.

“And like the rest of the UK, there is a forecasted skills shortage.”

Visit to Sullom Voe  and meeting with Shetland employers

Andy was joined by ECITB’s Head of New Entrants, Adrian Wookey, and Scotland Account Manager and local guide, Sophie Anderson.

Sophie has engaged a host of stakeholders on the forecasted skills shortage on the islands in the face of significant project developments across all sectors of the power and process industries.

The team visited the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal with EnQuest Maintenance Superintendent, Jason Jamieson, and then met with local engineering employers as well as the Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

Andy explained: “The main aim of the visit was to speak with asset owners, local contractors, Highland & Islands Enterprise and UHI Shetland on how to collaborate to optimise opportunities to meet the challenges.

“In an attempt to augment the current recruitment activities of the local contractors and to support the larger, national contractors that are based on the islands, the ECITB is currently sponsoring a group of mechanical learners through UHI Shetland on an ECITB Scholarship with another cohort starting in September 2023.

“The ECITB team convened a group of employers, UHI Shetland, Skills Development Scotland and DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) to discuss how a collaborative approach to skills may achieve better outcomes from new entrant programmes. In particular, around specific upskilling activities such as Mechanical Joint Integrity or Small Bore Tubing, none of which is readily available on the islands but for which there is a steady demand.

“Key to this collaboration is support and advocacy from the two main process sector employers, EnQuest and TotalEnergies, which respectively operate the oil terminal and gas plant at Sullom Voe.

“The only way to make a dent in the skills challenges is to work collaboratively across the project life cycle. Asset owner advocacy is vital to achieving the right skills solution.

“Once that is in place, we can work with training providers on the programme and contractors on the competence assurance and employment.”

Pictured main: The ECITB delegation was joined by ECITB scholars, UHI Shetland, Skills Development Scotland and representatives from engineering companies including Voar Energy, Ocean Kinetics, Malakoff, Altrad and L/E/F.

Find out more about ECITB Scholarships

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