A brand new £1million, state-of-the-art, offshore training centre was unveiled Thursday, May 30, at Newcastle International Airport, which will see up to 6,000 offshore workers trained every year in emergency fire fighting.
The world-class facility has been developed by Offshore Training Newcastle (OTN) – a unique partnership of three of the North East’s leading training organisations: AIS, Newcastle International Airport and Maersk Training. Together these partners, under the banner of OTN, have ambitious plans to position Newcastle at the forefront of offshore training globally and help address the skills shortages currently being experienced offshore.
Each organisation brings years of specialist expertise to the partnership; AIS is an award-winning expert in offshore oil and gas training, Maersk Training is a world-recognised training provider for the offshore wind and maritime industries and Newcastle Airport has more than 20 years’ experience in delivering high quality emergency response fire training across a range of sectors.
OTN has invested almost £1million into the new 20,000 square foot centre, which has been designed to create one of the most realistic offshore emergency response training facilities in the world. The centre features a three-storey mock offshore platform rig with full size heli-deck, Super Puma helicopter simulator and internal structures which mirror those on an offshore installation.
Within these facilities trainees will be able to experience the heat and smoke conditions of a real offshore fire and learn the specialist fire-fighting techniques needed to overcome the conditions.
The centre has now been endorsed by OPITO – the training body for the oil and gas industry – which has accredited the offshore emergency response courses available.
The facility also complements AIS and Maersk Training’s existing 70,000 square foot bespoke training centre in North Tyneside launched last year. This provides onshore and offshore training for those working on oil rigs or wind turbines, as well as a raft of other industrial, engineering and health and safety courses endorsed by the world’s leading trade associations including IRATA, OPITO, SPRAT, IOSH, GWO and Renewable UK.
OTN is hoping to attract more than 6,000 delegates from across the globe to train each year on the dozens of professional offshore qualifications and skills training offered.
Paul Stonebanks, Managing Director at AIS, said: “Newcastle International Airport boasts years of specialist expertise in aviation fire fighting training and a vital transport link into the region – it was therefore the clear partner to complement our existing offshore training offer.
“Working collaboratively with Maersk Training and the Airport we can now offer a complete training solution to those working, or aspiring to work, in the offshore sector. The North East already boasts an excellent reputation as a service provider to the offshore sector and OTN is aiming to enhance this reputation further. Through OTN we will be able to fulfil every offshore training need with world recognised qualifications for the oil and gas, wind and maritime industries such as rope access, blaster painter, wind technician, emergency response and many more.”
Dave Laws, Chief Executive at Newcastle International, said: “This is an exciting new venture for Newcastle Airport and one which we believe will benefit both the offshore sector and the wider North East economy.
“Offshore fire fighters are more likely than others to face scenarios such as helicopter fires or pressurised oil fires. When you’re offshore you can’t just dial 999 and expect immediate assistance so individuals need to be well-trained and self-sufficient when dealing with these scenarios.
“With over 20 years’ experience of extreme fire fighting training, teamed with our new realistic simulated offshore environments, we are well equipped to give offshore fire fire-fighters the skills they need to cope with the worst-case scenarios offshore.”
Stuart Cameron of Maersk Training in Newcastle, said: “This new partnership is excellent news for the North East. Sectors like renewable energy are experiencing unprecedented growth and have resulting skills shortages that need to be plugged. That’s where the state-of-the-art facilities and complete training solution at Offshore Training Newcastle will help equip the workforce with the skills that are needed.”
Larraine Boorman, managing director of oil and gas industry skills body OPITO, said: “Skills training and workforce safety are at the heart of the energy industry. Regional trends may differ, the impact of effective training strategies across operators, service companies and contractors can vary, but the over-riding need for a skilled and competent workforce remains the same.
“This new facility not only provides an excellent resource for the region, it plays its part in expanding the footprint of training excellence across the UK, opening up access to vital safety and emergency response training for the local workforce.”