The first national UK shale colleges were today given the go-ahead by Business, Enterprise & Energy Minister Matthew Hancock MP.
The new centres of excellence will train a generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, helping the UK to seize the economic opportunities offered by natural shale gas.
The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will be headquartered in Blackpool and linked to colleges in Glasgow, Chester, Redcar and Cleveland and Portsmouth.
“Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on. Imagine if we had passed up a similar opportunity to go into the North Sea some fifty years ago. What if we’d let that oil and gas stay in the ground? What if we’d said it was too difficult or too controversial?
“The whole country would be poorer, finance would account for an even greater share of our economy; Aberdeen would be a seaside resort rather than a regional powerhouse.
“I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity, with the potential for industry to invest up to £33 billion in the next 15 years or so.
“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs.
“That’s why we are investing in the people behind project. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive.
“To make a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.”
The Government is providing £750,000 of development funding which will be matched by industry bodies and education providers to develop the College. Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.
The National College will:
- Provide high level specialist skills needed by the industry from ‘A’ level equivalents right through to postgraduate degree level, and train teachers and regulators.
- Accredit relevant training and academic courses run by other institutions.
- Carry out research and development for improved equipment, materials and processes that will increase the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of operations.
- Work with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the industry, and to help them make the right subject choices early on.
Blackpool and the Fylde College’s Lancashire Energy HQ will deliver a comprehensive range of qualifications up to postgraduate level, with facilities including a drill simulator and emergency control simulator.
The Weir Advanced Research Centre, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will accelerate the development of high pressure pumping, hydraulic fracturing and other above ground hardware together with the training of highly skilled employees to operate the equipment.
The Minister also opened the new Advanced Technology Centre. The centre will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment that will become the Centre of Excellence for advanced engineering, technology and energy solutions on the Fylde Coast and across Lancashire. An estimated 6,000 students from the age of 14 years through to adults will benefit from this training and education every year.
Industry group, the United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), led the bid to set up the college. Oversight by the industry will ensure that these colleges ensure students achieve the high level specialist training to meet the current and future needs of the industry, and keeps the UK ahead of the competition in drilling, hydraulic fracturing, site development and environmental management.
Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.