Main Content

John McDonald, managing director of OPITO UK writes about increasing skills in the Scottish oil and gas sector, in the new edition of World Class Scotland 2015.

Oil rig piping

In today’s global marketplace, one of Scotland’s most valuable exports is the skills and expertise of its oil and gas workforce. The country’s long history of excellence in cutting edge research and innovative engineering skills has helped establish Scotland as a key player on the international stage.

Fifty years ago, the North Sea became the focal point of the global oil and gas industry. Back then, we looked to America for their skills and experience at getting hydrocarbons out of the ground. Fast forward to today and the skills and knowledge in the North Sea have grown exponentially to the point where our people, products and technology are highly sought after both domestically and internationally.

It is this experience which has seen Scotland establish itself as a global centre of excellence in offshore engineering, subsea technology and in the export of offshore goods and services, attracting both majors, midsize and start-up companies to our shores from around the globe.

A wide sea of skills

“The sector’s success to date is a direct result of the fostering of principles which allow business to seize opportunities, break barriers and explore uncharted territories.”

John McDonald, managing director of OPITO UK

Much of the industry’s success and industriousness has been borne out of its ambition and culture. With entrepreneurship the engine that drives the sector, its success to date is a direct result of the fostering of principles which allow business to seize opportunities, break barriers and explore uncharted territories.

Never has this success been more evident than through OPITO’s own experiences. As the oil and gas industry skills body, we aim to deliver skills solutions both here in Scotland but also across the UK and to the global energy sector. Independent operators and foreign governments actively seek out our expertise to help assist oil and gas provinces around the world implement the high safety and training standards first honed and developed here in the North Sea.

More than 250,000 people a year now train to these standards across the globe, a terrific number of which we should be rightly proud. The North Sea industry has much to look forward to. This is a sector, like so many others, that has endured peaks and troughs over the years and while it may be facing a tough time in the current climate, it has weathered - and survived – such downturns in the past.

Our young people are the future of the industry and we must continue to encourage and foster this talent whether it’s in the workplace, learning through modern apprenticeship schemes, or through collaborations with Scotland’s outstanding learning institutions. The responsibility is on us as an industry, to ensure that we keep the quality and workmanship as alive and kicking as the North Sea region itself if we are to achieve our overall ambition to remain as one of the major global regions for energy activity.

Download the new edition of World Class Scotland 

(PDF; 43 MB - may take some time to download, depending on your broadband connection)