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Female Apprentice Technician Scoops Industry Award for the First Time

23 March 2011

College student Sarah Coull from Moray is top of the class after winning a coveted oil and gas industry award from OPITO.

Sarah 18, from Buckie, has been named the 2010 Apprentice of the Year by the Aberdeen-headquartered oil and gas industry body.

She is the first female recipient of the award which recognises and acknowledges outstanding ability and attitude during the two year college phase of the four year apprenticeship scheme.

Sarah is currently training to become an instrument technician through full-time study at Jewel & Esk College in Edinburgh, one of four industry-appointed colleges in the UK.

Sarah Coull, Centre, Flanked by the Runners-up Vincent Jones and Gordon Hunter.

She faced stiff competition from apprentice technicians across Scotland studying disciplines including mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and process.

To mark her achievement, Sarah was presented with a shield and a cash prize. The runners up were Aberdeen College student Vincent Jones and Gordon Hunter of Forth Valley College.

"It's fantastic to win such an award and I have thoroughly enjoyed my course so far which will no doubt stand me in good stead for a future role in the oil and gas industry, said Sarah.

"Winning a recognised award from OPITO can only help in my career development and I'm thrilled to have won as I was up against some very highly skilled technicians.

John Fraser, Modern Apprenticeship Scheme manager at OPITO, said: "Sarah should be very proud of her achievement, it was a very hard decision for the judges, with all three candidates being exceptional but Sarah is a worthy winner who strives to do her best at every opportunity.

"We are delighted to see an increasing number of female apprentices going into technical-orientated careers in the oil and gas industry, an area that has traditionally been more male dominated and we wish Sarah all the best for the second phase of her studies.

The Upstream Modern Apprenticeship scheme is managed by OPITO in partnership with the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board. Around 100 trainee positions are available annually on the scheme which is open to anyone aged 16 or over and boasts one of the best retention rates in the country with a massive 93% of apprentices completing the course and going on to find employment compared to the national average of 55%.

In the 11 years the programme has been running it has seen over 1,000 apprentices take their new-found talents into the workforce, creating a grassroots solution to the industry-wide skills shortage.

Operators and major contractors have invested more than £70 million of industry money directly to the MA scheme, making it one of the most relevant in terms of equipping the next generation of workers with the range of skills and experience employers need.

More information on the upstream oil and gas industry technician training scheme and OPITO can be found at or