The last 12 months have represented a landmark period of time for Aberdeen based oilfield services company Proserv.
The firm has undergone a major recapitalisation via new majority shareholders and 30-year industry veteran David Currie has come in as chief executive officer (CEO). Proserv’s senior management recently laid out a five-year strategy that will see the business focus on its core strengths of controls technology and its Gilmore range of valves.
So change has been the by-word for Proserv, but human resources manager Morag McGowan is maintaining continuity through the company’s current drive for new apprentices.
“The last few years have been challenging for businesses right across the industry but, despite the ups and downs, Proserv has retained its commitment to its apprenticeship programmes.
“We recently held our latest Apprentice Intake Assessment Day at our Westhill head office. Encouragingly, we were very heavily inundated with applications and the strongest candidates joined us for a day of interviews, group assessments and presentations.”
The firm will assign four new apprentices across its various Aberdeen sites, with two more sought for one of its subsea centres of excellence, based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
Apprenticeships and intern programmes are a key priority for the new CEO and David Currie was on-hand a few months ago to award certificates of excellence to the firm’s latest batch of apprentices on their graduation day. McGowan says the selection of new apprentices is one part of its wider recruitment policy.
“Our group learning & development manager, Duncan Salmon, and his team have devised a five year roadmap addressing future talent growth right across Proserv, incorporating apprentices, interns and future graduate programmes.
“The goal is to undertake this evolution holistically, with the ultimate aim of providing a continuity of talent and a sustainable workforce, to support the firm’s broader business strategy.”
Proserv retains a footprint across five continents and its determination to secure young talent has seen it embark on localisation programmes in the Arabian Gulf, with the aim of bringing Saudi Arabian nationals into the firm, and participate in apprenticeship schemes in Louisiana, close to its operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
McGowan suggests Proserv will seek to extend its search further and is likely to “upskill” and expand its capability in Chennai, India as the site becomes more strategically important. She also sees exciting collaborations possible at the firm’s research and development (R&D) centre in Trondheim.
“Our R&D capability in Norway is a critical part of our business and it is vital the expertise and creativity of this team is renewed and enhanced. I believe we are presently actively looking to establish industry/academia tie-ups with the likes of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
“To understand what technologies students are currently focused upon, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, enables us to have a clearer idea of the future direction of our sector. Likewise, we can offer direct input to the colleges so that education and industry requirements are better aligned.”
McGowan adds that partnership projects in Norway involving Proserv and postgraduates will enable the firm to secure new talent more readily, as these students will already have developed a familiarity with, and connection to, the company when they make decisions about their future careers.
But one area that McGowan would like to see the wider oil and gas industry address more effectively is the recruitment of more female apprentices and graduates.
“I feel the lack of gender equality is a societal issue and really it goes right back as far as primary schools. By the time many girls become graduates, their minds are often made up and it is difficult to encourage them into the industry.
“There are stereotypes to overcome but oil and gas is changing and with the increased importance of information technology, software and AI, a variety of new roles and expertise has emerged.”
Proserv’s detailed and proactive recruitment policies are geared towards recognising that new talent is the lifeblood of any business. As experience is taken out of the industry in the coming years as many professionals retire, McGowan points to the fact that greater gender equality could help fill any potential gaps.
Morag McGowan, human resources manager, Proserv