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Ryan Fernando discusses Aker Solutions’ “iAspire programme”

Ryan Fernando discusses Aker Solutions’ “iAspire programme”


Ryan Fernando is currently working as an Electrical Technician for Aker Solutions. He left Kemnay Academy after sixth year, where he gained four Higher qualifications. At the time Ryan did not have an interest in the university route, so his part-time job at McDonalds became full-time. 

Following just 6 months of working there, Ryan was quickly promoted to a shift manager, however not long after that he decided that he wanted a career that utilised his practical skills and he joined Aker Solutions’ Technical Apprenticeship scheme as an Electronic Apprentice in 2013. 

From day one of Ryan’s apprenticeship, he had a keen and positive attitude, worked hard and took every opportunity that came his way. This led to Ryan winning several awards throughout his apprenticeship and more recently Oil & Gas UK’s Apprentice of the Year, which was a great achievement for him and the company. 

At the end of Ryan’s apprenticeship, he achieved his HNC and SVQ Level 3, but he didn’t want to stop his education there, so he is currently studying part-time towards his BSc in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. 

Aker Solutions’ iAspire programme

Ryan’s involvement in Aker Solutions’ “iAspire“ programme started when he was an apprentice, leading the tour of Aker’s manufacturing facility and carrying out practical activities for the pupils. 

Over time Ryan became much more involved and took part in interviews with the pupils, helped define the structure and provided valuable feedback on the programme to the senior management team at Aker Solutions as well as being an ambassador for the programme at external events. 

The iAspire programme is an extended work placement programme that is run in collaboration with Bucksburn Academy. The 12-week structured programme is designed to inspire, educate and develop pupils with an interest in engineering and the oil and gas industry. 

During the programme the pupils are exposed to various areas of the business, from understanding the engineering design, to the importance of health and safety and also getting to learn about and see the products being built and tested in Akers’ world class manufacturing workshop facility. 

The programme is available as a subject choice for senior S5 and S6 pupils and the pupils that are interested go through an application process which involves an interview by Aker Solutions. This is a fantastic development opportunity for the pupils, which allows them to gain vital experience and practice for when they must do the real thing when they leave school. 

Once the pupils are selected, they visit Aker Solutions twice a week for 12 weeks to get a taste of all aspects of engineering and the oil and gas industry. At the beginning they are introduced to learning and development opportunities and they set SMART objectives for the programme. Each session they have is run by various volunteers across the business, from apprentices and graduates to specialists and management, all of which believe in developing the next generation. They all share their own experiences and career paths to illustrate the various routes available to a career in the Energy industry. 

The pupils then make their way through the various departments, with each session tailored where possible to the pupils’ specific interests. However, the general structure follows time spent in Akers’ Health and Safety, Continuous Improvement, Asset Integrity Management, Subsea Lifecycle Services and Manufacturing departments. 

The pupils learn how to identify a hazard and receive basic risk assessment training. They learn what “Lean principles” and “Continuous improvement” mean to a business and the importance of standardising through a fun practical activity. 

Akers’ engineers demonstrate the complex 3D design and simulation software that they use daily and then put the pupils’ design and practical skills to the test with a “K’nex” challenge (K’nex is a construction toy system). This helps give them an understanding of structural integrity and how important the design process is. They are also shown a subsea system and are told how it works, before finally getting to experience some of those subsea products with a tour around our manufacturing site, along with some practical tasks too.

Finally, at the end of the 12 weeks, the pupils create a presentation on their experience and deliver it to all the volunteers involved along with a few of their teachers. 

Ryan commented: “This is a great time to see how much the pupils have absorbed and at this point I am normally amazed with how much they have retained. It is also great practice for them in preparing and delivering a presentation to an unfamiliar audience – a life skill worth having. We then provide them with feedback and they tell us what they enjoyed most. 

As an exponent of Aker Solutions’ apprenticeship programme himself, Ryan feels that the skills he has learned have been invaluable.

Ryan says: “From technical competencies and working as part of a team, to communication skills and public speaking, the development and opportunities I have received have given me the skills to succeed in every task that I have to do today. An apprenticeship secures the foundation of your career and from that point you can take those skills and apply them to many career paths within the Energy Industry.”

“Throughout my apprenticeship I have always strived to share my story with as many youngsters as possible. I do this because I believe going through an apprenticeship has developed me not just technically, but as a person and I will continue to be an ambassador of apprenticeships and hope to inspire more of the next generation to follow this path.”

Published: 27-07-2019
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