OPITO names 2022 Apprentice of the Year

OPITO Apprentice of the Year Colin Ross

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IN search of greater work-life balance, a 28-year-old ex-gymnastics coach joined the OGTAP scheme and has now been named 2022 Apprentice of the Year by global energy safety and skills organisation, OPITO. 

Pursuing a career change to spend quality time with his family, Colin Ross, secured a sought-after place in the Oil & Gas Technical Apprentice Programme in 2020. Colin is now in his third year as a process operations apprentice, working offshore on the Glen Lyon FPSO.

Colin, a former gymnastics coach from East Kilbride, has always had an interest in the energy industry but lacked experience. “With no experience, an apprenticeship programme felt like the best route to take,” said Colin.

“OGTAP is the gold-standard apprenticeship,” Colin continued. “OPITO is a global organisation and the OGTAP scheme is highly regarded across the world.” 

Colin’s network of friends and family who currently work in the energy sector advised him the OGTAP scheme would be a great route into the industry, while gaining invaluable experience through a combination of theoretical, college-based learning and practical learning on worksites and offshore.

OGTAP is one of the UK’s largest industry-led apprenticeship initiatives, managed by OPITO and the ECITB. The scheme has brought around 2000 young people into the oil and gas industry since its inception in 1999, with one of the highest achievement rates in the country.

Colin added: “It’s cheesy and everyone says it, but I really am honoured to receive this award. I know the high-quality of people completing this course with me, and being recognised out of my 74 peers is a real boost and reminds me that I’m heading in the right direction.”

The OGTAP programme focuses on four key disciplines: electrical maintenance; mechanical maintenance; process operations; and instrumentation and control, all of which provide the fundamental qualifications required for technical roles in oil and gas, renewables, and associated sectors.

Apprentices attend an industry-selected college for 21 months to gain the required qualifications before spending two years with a sponsoring energy company. During this time they receive expert training and mentoring, gaining industry-specific skills, as well as an SVQ Level 7 in their chosen discipline.

“You can’t do the practical without having the theoretical knowledge. That’s why an apprenticeship works so well – you get that blended understanding,” said Colin. 

“The instructors at Asset were extremely experienced industry professionals and being able to draw on their experience, both technical aspects and life offshore, was a real highlight.” 

Ryan Monteith, Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) on bp’s Glen Lyon FPSO said: “Since joining the Glen Lyon, Colin has integrated seamlessly into the team, demonstrating his capability and diligence to both peers and leaders. Settling into an offshore team can sometimes take a while, but Colin has adapted at pace, using every opportunity that presents itself to boost his OPTIO portfolio.

“His talent and can-do mentality make him a great addition to the Glen Lyon team, and I am pleased that his hard work has been recognised with this award. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Colin.”   

The OPITO Apprentice of the Year Awards have been running since 2015. The best performing OPITO candidate is nominated by college tutors and OPITO mentors for the annual award before they are interviewed by a panel of judges to select the winner.

Scott McDonald, Modern Apprenticeship Scheme Manager at OPTIO, said:”Apprentices are a crucial part of our workforce who will help us deliver a safe, secure and reliable energy supply as we move towards a low carbon future. We at OPITO would like to congratulate Colin on winning Apprentice of the Year, as well as the three finalists. Each year one candidate is nominated by their respective from each discipline (Electrical, Mechanical, Instrument and Control and Process) and every nominee should feel immensely proud of their achievement. 

“Colin, an exceptional apprentice in college, has gone to his worksite and continued to impress with his efforts and work ethic. While still at the beginning of his career, I am sure Colin has a bright future ahead of him within the energy industry. OPITO is very much looking forward to watching him progress as he continues his apprenticeship with BP.”

Colin concluded: “On the OGTAP programme, age doesn’t matter – it’s about you as a person. It’s one of the best decisions I have made, the apprenticeship is second-to-none – people should just go for it.”

Applications for the 2023 OGTAP programme will open in early 2023. You can find more information here: https://www.ogtap.co.uk/

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