Ex-military men to go work offshore

The eight former RAF workers who have become oil and gas technicians
The eight former RAF workers who have become oil and gas technicians

Ex-military workers have been given a chance at a second career in the oil and gas industry thanks to energy service giant Petrofac.

Eight former Royal Air Force (RAF) workers were the first group to complete the bespoke ‘Forces Transition Programme’ with Petrofac Training Services (PTS) in Montrose.

The technicians completed their eight week training course on Friday (April 25) designed to convert their military experience to make them offshore ready as instrument and control technicians.

They will be heading offshore in the North Sea in the next few weeks as they were given a job with Petrofac from the day they started the course.

Andrew Ferguson, Petrofac vice-president for Europe, told the Review: “There is a shortage of people interested in working in the industry.”

He said he felt the lack of interest was because of a fear that oil and gas is going to run out, but added that this was not true.

“There is going to be a need for 1,000 offshore workers in the next eight years and as a large energy company we needed to do something,” Mr Ferguson continued.

PWC research has suggested that the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen alone will need 120,000 more people in the next 10 years.

The Petrofac vice-president for Europe added: “We decided to take on ex-military workers because they had the skills we need.

“They didn’t have to start as trainees and do extensive training, they came in and did an eight week course, and we expanded on their skill set, which will help get them offshore quicker.

“I hope that they will become future offshore or onshore commercial managers.”

Mr Ferguson concluded that this course at the PTS centre on Forties Road will be followed by another to train electrical technicians.

Candidates for the ‘Forces Transition Programme’ were selected from across the UK through the Career Transition Partnership, established by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help with resettlement of ex-service personnel.

Robert Hutton, from Lossiemouth, was an avionics technician for 12 years. He left the RAF in February after his squadron disbanded.

He said: “It would be a lot harder to have found another job if it hadn’t been for this course.

“I would definitely encourage other ex-military workers to get involved in a course like this.”

The former RAF technician who had been deployed to Afghanistan twice added: “I don’t think it will be too much of a shock going offshore, when you’re in the military you go away for months at a time and are in close confined spaces with people for long periods of time. I can imagine it will be the same working offshore but for a short period of time.”

Gordon Andrew, technical team leader, said: “In seven years as a trainer I’ve never had a group for so long.

“They were a dedicated and disciplined bunch.

“I built up a relationship with them, which I think was because I could relate to them as I worked on and offshore for 26 years. Some of the lads were based near where I was in Omagh, in Northern Ireland.

“It was a sad day to see them leave.”

The ‘Forces Transition Programme’ was launched in March and is a partnership between the oil and gas industry, the MoD and training providers to create and pilot ‘new to industry’ courses, taking qualified and experienced ex-forces personnel and training them to become skilled offshore technicians.

Now the eight week programme is finished the technicians will continue to be trained and assessed until they achieve an SVQ level three, which will take around a year.