Subsea Expo

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Project on Track to Meet Subsea Sector Skills Needed

07 April 2009

Newcastle University and Newcastle College are working with a world-leading group of subsea employers in North East England to provide subsea specific courses and qualifications.

New degree programmes in subsea engineering and management are being developed to provide flexible provision for full-time learners and those wanting to study on a part-time basis.

The Subsea Future Talent project, a collaboration between Subsea North East, Newcastle University and Newcastle College, arose from a recognition that there were substantial skills issues in the subsea sector, and secured in excess of £0.5m of funding for skills development from regional development agency One North East through their Higher Level Skills Capacity Fund.

This fund is designed to ensure that the skills needs of employers in the region's priority sectors are met by training providers.

Subsea firms in the region, including Wellstream International, DUCO, BEL Valves, Wilton Marine, Penspen, IHC Engineering Business, Perry Slingsby Systems, SMD and CTC Marine, are increasingly recognised as key contributors to the region's economy and Subsea North East, a regional grouping of employers, affiliated to NOF Energy and Subsea UK, has been instrumental in raising the sector's profile.

The Subsea Future Talent project was officially launched on 14 January 2009 and over 40 guests attended a presentation at Newcastle University Business School to hear plans for a new foundation degree in Subsea Engineering (subject to formal validation) at Newcastle College and a new Masters Degree in Subsea Engineering and Management (subject to university approval) at Newcastle University.

The development of both is in conjunction with an industry committee (including representation from Wellstream International, DUCO, BEL Valves, Perry Slingsby, Atkins Boreas and IHC Engineering Business) and with input from other regional firms.

The programmes will be delivered in a flexible format to suit the needs of industry.

Short courses will also be available and over 40 employees of local subsea firms have already attended a one day Introduction to Subsea Systems course.

Newcastle University has a strong record of developing industry focused programmes and researchers at Newcastle University Business School secured prestigious Economic & Social Research Council funding to develop the relationship with the subsea sector in the region.

The proposed new programme will complement other provision including the School of Marine Science & Technology's existing courses in Pipeline Engineering and Offshore Engineering and Newcastle University Business School's suite of undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education programmes.

The School of Applied Science & Technology is leading for Newcastle College on the Subsea Future Talent project and in particular on the development of specific curriculum and enhancement of employer partnering activity.

Newcastle College has progressively shaped its provision towards the priorities of adult workplace skills and has a successful track record in meeting employers' and employees' training requirements.

The college works with employers to develop progressive models of delivery based on industry needs, incorporating flexibility of delivery patterns and rapid responsiveness to ensure that skills and qualifications offered help companies deal with an increasingly demanding and competitive operating environment.

Another aspect of the Subsea Future Talent project is to ensure that the technology associated with the subsea sector is showcased in the region.

A Subsea Christmas Tree, a key piece of equipment for producing oil and gas from subsea wells, arrived at Newcastle College on March 15.

The 26 tonne, piece of equipment, which has been on display at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, will now offer significant opportunities for hands-on training at Newcastle College. The logistics of this operation were highly complicated and dependent upon locating and arranging the necessary specialist lifting equipment which proved difficult until Neil Kirkbride, CEO of BEL Valves, the Newcastle-based specialist valves manufacturer, and Neil Thompson and Mark Lawrence of Cameron, the original manufacturer of the Christmas Tree, stepped in to locate and arrange delivery of the specialised equipment required.

Now that the Subsea Christmas Tree is in its new location Newcastle College will be proactively working with employers and partners to maximise its use to support delivery of the new foundation degree in Subsea Engineering. Chris Braithwaite of Wellstream International and Chair of Subsea North East said: “This project is really gaining momentum and starting to show results. We are delighted with the substantial commitment shown by Newcastle University, Newcastle College and One North East to the subsea industry in the region.”