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Subsea UK Tackles the Skills Gap through New Initiative

12 June 2013

Fast-growing independent company ROVOP today launched its own proprietary ROV Academy which has been developed with the support of a major new Subsea UK initiative.

Subsea Target aims to help the UK subsea industry recruit and develop the thousands of people it needs to capture a bigger share of the global market, increasing the £6billion already generated annually by the sector.

Subsea UK marked the first phase of its initiative with the launch of its Subsea Target website which acts as a strategic tool for the skills-focused programme that is assisting companies like ROVOP in recruiting and developing the people they need as well as helping individuals access and secure rewarding careers in the industry.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: "A recent survey of Subsea UK members revealed that the sector, which already employs 50,000 people across the country, needs a further 10,000 people in the next 12 months to capitalise on current and future growth.

"Attracting and developing the necessary talent to ensure that British subsea companies continue to lead the way around the world is becoming increasingly difficult. Subsea Target provides the framework, guidance and tools for companies to source and develop the talent they need and for those seeking jobs in the sector to embark on the correct entry route and improve their chances of getting a job. The overall aim is to close the skills gap and ensure that our sector remains competitive and has the right resources to exploit the significant growth potential.”

Subsea Target offers support for existing training and development initiatives as well as helping individual companies grow their own talent through access to programmes such as the subsea engineer conversion course, transition training focused on ex-military personnel, subsea on-line learning and the apprenticeship schemes.

Mr Gordon said: "We have fully investigated what the industry needs in terms of skills and explored the existing programmes which work well for individual companies. Through a collaborative approach, we have shared best practice from industry and designed pan-industry programmes which deliver solutions in the short to medium-term.”

"For example, to develop a fully qualified subsea engineer through a graduate scheme can take up to three years. The subsea engineer conversion course is designed to take an existing engineer from another discipline to a fully competent subsea engineer in well under a year.”

The Subsea Target website - – provides a platform for individuals looking to gain a greater insight to the subsea industry and the diverse variety of roles within it. Individuals can find out how and where to apply for jobs as well as pick up valuable industry advice on generating an appropriate CV which highlights their relevant skills. Meanwhile companies looking to grow their own talent pools can access support tools directly from Subsea UK’s website –

Mr Gordon added: "Today’s launch is focused at subsea businesses, giving them access to the website and getting them to use it in order to meet their immediate skills requirements. We will be following this up with a launch targeted at individuals who may be unaware of the opportunities in subsea and are looking for work or to move from their current industry into one which has major growth potential and more attractive benefits.

"Through a bow-tie effect where we pull companies in through one side and individuals through the other, giving both the tools and intervention required, to reach the target of successfully working in the subsea sector to help close our shortfall of 10,000.”

ROVOP worked closely with Subsea UK under the umbrella of Subsea Target to establish its ROV Academy. It has been developed to ensure the company has a supply of the most competent offshore personnel, predominantly pilot-technicians for its rapidly-evolving fleet of subsea remotely operated vehicles.

Scottish Enterprise, which has been supporting ROVOP's development through a combination of business advice and loan funding, helped with the appointment of a Scottish Training Co-ordinator, who will run the academy. A one-off grant of £8,400 will help fund the post for 12 months.

The academy provides a comprehensive structured training programme that includes all ROV-related study, practical experience and other offshore training. Delivered in a modular form, the programme takes participants from entry level through to the most experienced offshore supervisor and focuses on moving the individual through their career with a focus on individual development and continuous improvement.

ROVOP, which is headquartered in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, is 100% focused on delivering ROV services through its dedicated talent pool of experts for both the global oil & gas and offshore wind industries. As a result of significant business growth since it was established in 2011, the company has already recruited around 50 people over the last 18 months and now aims to recruit another 200 people over the next few years which will be underpinned by its academy.

Steven Gray, managing director at ROVOP, said: "The ROV Academy provides a clear and transparent structure for those seeking to enter or progress in this highly skilled and rewarding profession. The blend of skilled piloting of an ROV vehicle underwater - using joystick and touch screen type controls as well as advanced electronics and hydraulics - and the need to work effectively with a small team make this a uniquely rewarding sector for motivated personnel.

"Development of our people is key to ROVOP’s success and our dedicated team of experienced, competent personnel operating latest generation systems adds real value to all of our customers’ projects. Perhaps the best testament to this is the high level of repeat business for ROVOP. Therefore, we want to recruit the most talented offshore personnel and develop the best trainees we can employ. As part of this, we have invested in a £250,000 simulator which helps enable us to develop the skills of our offshore personnel at all levels.”

He added: "The subsea industry is a really vibrant one to work in and the lifestyle of working rotations - consisting usually of a month offshore, working in a variety of locations worldwide, and then a month off at home – is appealing to many. We are therefore pleased to be contributing to the industry and to have launched our academy with the support of Subsea Target.”

The ROV Academy is open to all personnel from the most experienced offshore supervisors wishing to update their skills, through to an entry level electrical or mechanical engineer wishing to make their first move into remotely operated vehicles.

Subsea Target is a Subsea UK initiative supported by the Skills Development Scotland Energy Skills Challenge Fund. It is part of Subsea UK’s skills strategy which aims make a material and sustainable difference by helping companies source and develop the people they need to prosper. This is through three strands; a short-term approach to helping companies meet their immediate skills’ needs; a medium-term approach to attracting graduates and apprentices into the industry and a long-term approach focused on educating school children about the careers in subsea and encouraging the uptake of STEM subjects.