Women take centre-stage during the second day of National Oil & Gas Week

The under-representation of women and the role of apprentices in the UK oil and gas industry came under the spotlight yesterday (Wednesday, November 12th) during the second day of National Oil & Gas Skills Week.

Female captains of industry and a senior ranking female officer within Police Scotland were among the speakers at an event at Aberdeen Art Gallery yesterday attended by around 80 women currently working in the oil and gas sector.

Superintendent Kate Stephen of Police Scotland shared her experience of working in a traditionally male-dominated sector. She was joined by Jeanette Forbes, chief executive and founder of the PCL Group; Malissa Boudreaux, sales and marketing director in Europe, Africa and Russia Caspian for Baker Hughes Incorporated; and Alix Thom, skills and employment issues manager at Oil & Gas UK.

OPITO Oil & GasIn a second event, current working professionals attended a Sticky Floors & Glass Ceilings workshop in Portlethen hosted by Equate Scotland. The session focused on the contribution women make in the workplace and the barriers to furthering their careers.

Morven Spalding, OPITO’s skills Development Director, said:

“The reason behind the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines is difficult to pinpoint. Rather than being the result of a single issue, a number of factors are influencing the choices women make when it comes to their careers.

“There is a considerable body of evidence which shows that women can encounter structural barriers to their progression at work in the STEM professions, including oil and gas. The oil industry is incredibly broad in terms of the spectrum of career options it offers however the technical job roles like technicians and engineers still suffer from the stigma of being seen as traditionally male roles.

“Turning this stereotype on its head is something which has to start in the classroom at an early age. Studies have shown that when they start secondary school, just as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science subjects. From there however, this interest wanes with girls ultimately opting out of STEM-related classes and careers.

“In focusing on the role of women as part of the wider programme of events during National Oil & Gas Skills Week we hope to inspire the next generation of talent whilst enabling those already in the sector to maximise their continued professional development.”

Yesterday also saw all 200 of the current modern apprentices studying at industry-appointed colleges in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Falkirk gather in Aberdeen for a fun activity day ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Upstream Oil & Gas Technician Training Scheme.

To mark the launch of Skills Week falling on Remembrance Day, and to celebrate the link between skilled ex-Forces personnel and the oil and gas sector, the apprentices have been fundraising in aid of Help for Heroes.

The trainees have raised almost £6,000 to date to support the charity which provides practical, direct support to servicemen and women who have endured life-changing injuries in conflict.

“The recruitment and training of technicians is critical to developing and retaining the workforce we need to continue to take on the world’s toughest energy challenges,” added Mrs Spalding.

“Apprenticeship programmes are an excellent example of how an industry can proactively tackle its skills issues. Today’s event is about recognising the achievements of the current intake of apprentices by bringing them together for a day of fun activities.”

National Oil & Gas Skills Week aims to explore the skills and career pathways within the industry across the UK. Targeting a variety of audiences, it will see everything from science, engineering and maths events, specialist workshops and careers sessions to debates, interactive challenges and much more take place in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William, North Shields, Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and London from November 11-14th.

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