Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils have adopted a new innovative approach to teacher recruitment as a group of former oil and gas workers begin their inductions to become secondary school teachers.
Aberdeenshire Council said on Wednesday that the new Transition into Education Scheme (TIES) is a partnership between Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils, the University of Aberdeen where the new teachers will study, and the Scottish Government, which is funding the scheme.
The new teachers, all of whom previously worked in the oil and gas industry, are training for a range of subjects including Maths, Chemistry, and Physics and have already taken part in their induction as council employees.
The Council said that as of this week until June 2017, the former oil and gas industry workers will be in full-time employment as graduate education assistants while they study for a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects.
During their term, they will spend a mix of time in classrooms in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen schools as well as study at the University.
Russell, one of the new chemistry teachers, said: “My career in oil and gas has spanned over ten years, working in Aberdeen on offshore projects as a process design engineer mainly for some of the engineering contractors.
“That work came to an end just over a year ago for me. Teaching was something at the back of my mind and friends, and colleagues had told me to think about it, that it was a good option.
“I’m going to have lots of experience of real-life situations that have occurred in my day-to-day job, on North Sea platforms, problems which had to be solved. I can apply that experience and knowledge to the day-to-day classroom environment and what I’m teaching at the time, taking what the kids are learning in a textbook or theory and say, you know, this is actually where you’re going to apply it in the future.”
Bob, a new maths teacher, said: “I spent the last thirty-five years in the oil industry, but I was let go at the end of May. I thought I’d apply for another job in the industry but I quite quickly heard about TIES, and it seemed to be exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I’d always really wanted to be a maths teacher.
“We’ve had some intensive days since we started at the University, there’s going to be lots of self-study, but we’re part of the normal PGDE course and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s Andrew Griffiths, who welcomed the new teachers at their induction, said: “TIES is fantastic, we are getting the benefit of some very experienced people from the oil and gas industry coming into our schools.
“It’s a very different and innovative approach in the North East of Scotland, and we’re obviously very grateful to the Scottish Government for the funding of the scheme and the University of Aberdeen for working in partnership with us in providing the training for these new teachers.
“This is another step in the right direction in terms of education provision in the North East of Scotland, to get the expertise of who have come from a different career with different experiences.”
That the situation is far from rosy in the oil and gas industry speaks the recent report by Oil & Gas UK which said that, since the industry’s peak in 2014, 84.000 jobs had been lost by the end of 2015 due to the severe strain of continued low oil prices.
In the report released in June, the industry body said that it expects another 40.000 jobs to be axed by the year’s end which would mean a drop from around 450,000 to 330.000 in two years.