UK Total Solutions (UKTS) & Gateshead College (GC) are soon to open a new Oil, Gas and Renewables Academy, the first in the North East, following a six-figure investment in a purpose built facility, which will provide a gateway to an industry career and help resolve some of the industry’s skills shortages.

The company has formed a strategic partnership with Gateshead College to equip students with the competencies and qualifications required to complete projects utilising rope access – a skill in short supply due to a lack of investment in competence assessment over the last decade.

UKTS, part of the Barrier Group, expects a high uptake of students to pass through its academy each year and will offer practical on the job experience for high achievers in competence certification on its operational projects throughout the UK.

The strategic partnership with Gateshead College will provide the oil, gas and renewable sectors with a talent pipeline of skilled workers capable of moving into employment and demonstrating the capabilities and competencies that the major oil and gas operators require.

Alongside their studies at Gateshead College, students will spend 12 weeks at the academy, undertaking their specific trade training at its 7,000 sq ft facility before undergoing IRATA Rope Access training. They will then progress to a three day competency assessment (TRACC) to certify their ability to work safely on ropes whilst carrying out trade activities. Training will be provided by rope access specialists who, having worked for the majority of blue-chip oil and gas companies, fully understand the specific tasks required in the industry.

Originally founded in Dubai in 2009, UKTS’s Middle East division employs 200 people, which includes 35 staff and 165 multi-skilled tradesmen. Currently, the company employs in the region of 20 people in the UK, but aims to rapidly increase that number as it expands its delivery of products and services through industry sectors.

Mick Flaherty, managing director at UKTS, said: “Our skills academy will provide a constant stream of competent professionals for service providers operating in the oil, gas and renewables industry. For years demand has outstripped supply, but, with the help of Gateshead College, we can provide industry with fresh talent to fill the void that will be left by its aging workforce.

“The lack of qualified trade people with rope access qualifications often hampers the supply chain’s ability to effectively service the needs of operators and contractors. Our collaboration will help hundreds of young people gain employment after they graduate thanks to their Trade Rope Access Competency Certification.”

Robert Bowles, chairman of Barrier Group, said: “It’s encouraging to see UK Total Solutions investing its resources in the next generation of skilled workers. The academy will ensure that companies such as Barrier have a pool of highly trained workers to draw from enabling them to increase their service provision.”

Mick Brophy, director of strategic partnerships at Gateshead College, said: “Our approach is to work with industry experts to develop and deliver training which gives people the skills needed by employers.

“We’re excited about this new venture with UKTS and believe it will lead to more job opportunities for local people. This partnership is among a number of initiatives that we are fronting to support people into employment, boost local businesses and help secure the future of the local economy.”

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