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UK Skills Body Appoints Rresearcher to Help Oil and Gas Industry Address its Skills Challenges

17 October 2011

OPITO, the oil and gas industry’s skills body, has created a new research post to help the sector better map its future skills needs.

The appointment is one of a series of initiatives being unveiled today which aim to address the need to expand the talent pool of experienced workers in the North Sea offshore industry.

It comes after recent indications that UK Continental Shelf reserves will last until 2050 however the trend of 30-60 year olds leaving the industry is continuing, leaving a rising number of vacancies for suitably skilled and experienced workers.

Praveeni Kirtisinghe has been appointed to develop an intelligent predictive model to support the forecasting of future skills and pinch points within the UK industry. It is the first time OPITO has embarked on such a large-scale research project.

A two-year posting, the full time role will see her collect information from relevant industry sources, analyse historical data and identify emerging issues and trends. OPITO will be able to disseminate this data to the industry, helping companies to make informed decisions about skills shortages or over supply.

It will also enable OPITO to work with the Government and academia to develop skills programmes more in line with industry needs.

OPITO is also today announcing a new Transformation Training Programme which offers a fast-track avenue for skilled workers with an established knowledge base and experience of other industries to switch to oil and gas where there is a long-term need for experienced technicians.

The 12-week course will be open to service leavers from the armed forces based at Kinloss and will focus on upskilling for the drilling sector.

OPITO’s Skills, Learning and Development Manager, Alison Spice said: "If the industry is to proactively tackle its skills issues it is vital that we have a comprehensive understanding of the areas where we are excelling and those where we need to do more.

"Praveeni’s work will build on the labour market intelligence survey that OPITO commissioned earlier this year which identified that the demand for appropriately skilled or experienced staff is continuing to outstrip supply with vacancies for engineers and managers the hardest to fill.

"Along with initiatives like the Transformation Training Programme, the results of her research will help the North Sea industry meet both its short and long-term challenges and achieve a step-change in the development of the skills necessary for its continued success.”

Mrs Kirtisinghe moved to the UK from Sri Lanka in 2010 where she worked as a business analyst. Since then she has held a number of roles, most recently with Aberdeen City Council. She will be based at OPITO’s headquarters in Portlethen.

She joins OPITO via Robert Gordon University as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a part government-funded programme to encourage collaboration between businesses and universities in the UK.