Engineering the Future20 March, 2012
It has long been recognised that the gas and oil industry is short of engineers, so by teaching schoolchildren the benefits of following this career path, by the time they reach graduate age they can enter the field and be supported and advised by highly experienced professionals from the start. As a supporter of BEEP (Business, Enterprise and Education Partnership), which brings together schools and companies to promote careers to young people, and through direct participation in work experience schemes, OSL are supporting the development of budding workers whilst guaranteeing that their own team maintains its perpetual supply of multidisciplined specialists.
“The focus is to attract, train and retain,” explained Alastair Robertson, a Principal Director at OSL’s head office in Hull, “thereby making their journey as smooth and fulfilling as possible.”
OSL are also part of the IChemE’s ACTS (Accredited Company Training Scheme), attending regional career events and supporting local schools. Pupils in Year 10 can carry out their work experience at the company, whilst a particular Year 12 student spends one day in the Hull office every week.
“He wants to be a mechanical engineer,” explained Alastair, “so we tailor his visits to his goal. Whilst with us, he gets to view equipment and see how the office works, then we teach him how it all applies on the grander scale.”
Undergraduates are invited to work at OSL for two months over the summer, giving them an excellent opportunity to get a real feel for what is required of engineers, managers and other team members.
“It’s a shared experience,” added Alastair. “The student gets to learn about the industry whilst we get to proactively address the shortage of future workers and give something back to the community.”
OSL continue to build strong links with Hull University. Over the years, graduates have gained invaluable experience at the engineering firm, progressing from graduate development to chartership across all mechanical disciplines. An especially proud company success story is Graeme Trotter, a former Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) student who is now in the final stages of his Chartership application with the IChemE. Once accredited, he will be recognised as a Senior Process Engineer.
“By far the best part of my role at OSL is the diversity of the work I am involved in. I can be sitting behind a desk working through design calculations on Monday, and by Wednesday find myself troubleshooting processes in the middle of an operating oil refinery. It’s a big challenge, but with the knowledge that my colleagues at OSL are there for help when I need it, it’s one that is extremely satisfying.”
Wednesday 28th March will see Hull University greet delegates from the energy sector for the New Energy Workforce, an event organised by HCF for ‘Securing the skills for a low carbon future’. With high profile companies the likes of Siemens, Mainstream Renewable Power, Vivergo Fuels, Energy & Utility Skills and Centrica Storage sharing industry views of key issues and potential actions, Alastair’s attendance will ensure that OSL keeps its finger on the pulse of trends, developments and advancements, which can then be passed on to the next influx of team members.
"We teach young people that it’s not just about crunching numbers or running software programmes,” Alastair pointed out. “It’s about solving problems; being smart, responsible and passionate; and appreciating that precise calculations ensure safety, success, and a career that rewards well in terms of wages, experience and satisfaction.”
OSL believes that it’s a shared responsibility of companies and educational bodies to guide young people into the industry and help them achieve their goals, rather than simply waiting for them to wander in, hoping that it works out. Through being instructed, advised and supported, graduates are encouraged to assess and challenge in order to understand the thinking process that best suits a successful specialist.
“We show them the path and help them to walk it,” said Alastair, “and before you know it, they’re leading the way for the next generation.”