As Offshore Europe 2019 arrives in Aberdeen, the oil and gas sector is continuing to evolve to meet future challenges.
That includes taking advantage of new technologies, internationalisation and diversification, and the transition to a lower carbon future.
These combined factors are accelerating the changing skills demands within the sector, with employers working to identify the skills they will need for future prosperity.
Aberdeen-based firm Aquaterra is one such company looking to grow.
They work across the world providing training covering a range of high-risk environments and materials from working at height or in confined spaces, to working with explosives or radioactivity.
So when the firm was offered the chance to look at their own skills through the Skills for Growth initiative – offered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with Remarkable – they were quick to grasp the opportunity.
Skills for Growth is a fully funded service for businesses with between five and 250 employees. It offers up to two days of business consultancy, helping employers understand their skills needs and to create a detailed people plan with guidance towards the right support.
Director Charlie Cameron said: “Eighty per cent of our training is for the oil and gas industry, and we’re sending instructors all over the world - to mainland Europe, to Africa, to places like Ghana and Kazakhstan.
“We’ve got 32 full time staff and a bank of contractors we can call upon, some at a moment’s notice, to support our operation.
“We have a good relationship with Roddy Innes at SDS and it was him who introduced the idea of Skills for Growth to us, and then introduced us to Willie McCall from Remarkable who undertook the review.
“Doing this was a no-brainer. You were getting someone who could undertake a review of your business free of charge and offer an expert opinion of how you could improve.
“We were concerned how much it would interfere with the business, but the staff enjoyed having someone with Willie’s skills coming in, so it was a worthwhile process.
“It was pitched at the right level. It was a very easy process to engage with and the focus was always on how we grow the business.”
The process resulted in a People Skills Action Plan which identified the steps Aquaterra Training needed to take in order to grow their business.
Charlie said: “It resulted in quite an informative plan that was all about our business. It was surprising to see something so detailed emerge.
“Themes that came from discussions with staff were that there are a lot of things we do well but there are other things we could better.
“We identified ourselves that we wanted to grow our existing customer base, develop new business in the UK and abroad and look at different ways to attract new clients.
“We train about 10,000 people a year just now but we want to grow that.
“One thing which emerged is looking at out vision and our values. That’s something which will offer benefits in the long term but the staff are fully engaged with it.
“The action plan also looked at what other skills we needed in the business as well as the front line delivery staff in order to meet the needs of clients.”
According to Roddy Innes, Skills for Growth Adviser at SDS, Aquaterra Training are a prime example of how companies can benefit from support.
He said: “Making use of Skills for Growth has already delivered results for Aquaterra and will continue to do so.
“This is an established firm with a global footprint, but they were still keen on identifying ways to improve so they could continue to grow.
“I’d encourage all small and medium enterprises at all stages of development to consider if Skills for Growth could bring them similar benefits.”
Charlie added: “This has never felt like doing homework. There are things which will take years to implement rather than weeks, but Roddy remains in touch with us and is realistic about what we can achieve.
“I’d certainly recommend it to other employers.”
To find out more, visit www.ourskillsforce.co.uk/growth
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