University joins National College

Posted on 13th November 2014

The University of Chester has today (Wednesday, November 12) been announced as a participant in the establishment of a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas by the UKOOG, the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry.

Building on the UK’s world-leading offshore heritage, the National College will help the UK to become an international centre of excellence for onshore operations. Its aim is to train the next generation of onshore oil and gas engineers and other specialists, providing first class qualifications and career opportunities for young people. 

Jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the onshore oil and gas industry, the National College will draw together a number of leading education and training institutions and industrial partners to deliver training programmes which will meet the onshore industry’s future skills needs.

The National College will operate a ‘hub and spokes’ model with the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, based at Thornton Science Park, acting as a spoke. Blackpool and the Flyde College, a leading provider of training to the offshore oil and gas industry, has been selected as the hub.

The announcement builds on Thornton Science Park’s establishment as a centre for excellence in science and technology. The University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering was established with the help of a £7.1 million HEFCE Catalyst grant and welcomed its first students in October this year. The Faculty has research expertise in environmental monitoring, process improvement and modelling.

The National College activities will complement the recently announced Energy Systems Demonstrator, for which £6.8 million has been provisionally allocated. This is part of a national Government funding announcement, forming part of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Growth Deal proposal.

The Thornton Energy Demonstrator will enable energy companies to test at scale new power saving and distribution technologies, enabling the development of low cost, environmentally responsible sources of energy. It will also explore behavioural aspects of energy consumption over the next 30 years.

A number of senior appointments have recently been made to the team at Thornton Science Park strengthening the expertise in public consultations, impact assessments and regulatory frameworks.

More than 130 businesses and academics recently gathered at Thornton to showcase the energy sector assets and expertise the region has to offer. More than 130 people attended the site near Ellesmere Port to hear from a number of organisations involved in developing future energy systems to secure an affordable and green energy supply in the UK.

Professor Nick Avis, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “I am delighted that the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Chester is a full partner in the National College and whose activities mesh perfectly with the energy focus of the new Thornton Science Park.

“We aim to provide high quality, industrially informed undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, underpinned and supported by a strong research culture. We will provide both highly skilled personnel to this new UK industry as well as, in partnership with other agencies, providing trusted datasets on which to inform future operations.”

Professor Joe Howe, Director of the Energy Research Institute at Thornton Science Park, said: “Our priority is to help the country enhance its energy security through the delivery of research and innovation driven skills programmes that enable development of the high quality workforce that will be demanded for these industries. It is critical to maximise the economic benefit for the UK from the investments currently underway across the whole of the energy sector.

“The National College is rooted in the North West, but with important provision at institutions across the country will play a key role in meeting these challenges.”

Charlie Woodcock, Senior Executive Director, Strategic Projects Office, said: “Working in partnership with industry, the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will help address key skills shortages that will enable the creation of a significant number of jobs across the UK over the next decade. This is a very significant collective endeavour"

Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is a major development for the University of Chester and will involve the provision of higher level skills training informed by research in an area vital to securing environmentally responsible energy sources over the next 50 years.”