Portrait photo of Jackie Mann

Jackie Mann

Attracting and then nurturing a young workforce is not only a cornerstone of a successful business but is key to promoting a thriving and empowered local community.

In North-east Scotland, where the resources laying under the waters of the North Sea off the coast of Aberdeen sustain an industry generating revenues of more than a billion pounds a year and around 110,000 local jobs, it is inevitable the oil and gas sector will welcome many of the region’s talented young professionals and apprentices.

But the industry can be unpredictable, exposed as it is to the vagaries of the global economic landscape, and so it is imperative local firms go the extra mile to maintain the ranks of their young employees in more challenging times.

At Proserv, as an oilfield service provider, we have come through the downturn of a few years ago, leaner and more robust due to some rigorous decision-making and wide-ranging strategic planning. However, even as the industry faced plummeting oil prices in 2014/5, we nevertheless made a commitment to continue to seek out and recruit new apprentices throughout that period.

Each year, we hold a dedicated Apprentice Intake Assessment Day at our Westhill head office. In 2019, we were very heavily inundated with applications and the strongest candidates joined us for a round of interviews, group tasks and presentations.

One of the features of the day involves one or two of our current apprentices from our sites in Aberdeen coming along to help make the candidates feel welcome, talk about their own experiences and answer any questions.

This provides an opportunity for our young colleagues to enhance their communication skills, develop their personal confidence and future leadership capabilities.

We are conscious of the responsibility we have to assist all of our Proserv team members to renew and evolve their skillsets. Doing so not only benefits our own company but holds them in good stead as individuals as they journey through their careers, whether that is at Proserv or indeed elsewhere.

For instance, this year we partnered with The Outward Bound Trust as our designated UK charity. As part of this, we utilised their excellent outdoor learning courses to enable some of our apprentices and young professionals, from across the UK, to develop a range of skills required to help them become more effective and capable in all walks of life, through a week-long future talent programme in the Lake District.

This tie-up has seen us undertake a range of fund-raising activities on behalf of Outward Bound and these have allowed pupils from Hazlehead Academy, a school located close to our head office, to also take advantage of the charity’s courses.

It was hugely rewarding to see some of our Proserv team members take time out in the summer to act as employee ambassadors on a three-day leadership course that Hazlehead’s S6 students undertook in Fort William.

As a global business, we have facilities in a number of countries and it is an important part of our corporate strategy to make sure we recruit young local employees wherever we operate – in Trondheim, Norway, for example, one of our key centres of R&D, we are establishing partnerships with local universities.

Our recruitment policies are geared towards recognising that new talent is the lifeblood of any business. Indeed, as experience is taken out of the energy industry as many professionals retire in the years ahead, developing a sustainable workforce via apprentices, interns and graduates is the way ahead.

This summer, thanks to a collaboration with DYW North East, one of our current apprentices, Jack Thomson, based at our site in Tullos, Aberdeen featured in an STV report looking at the options available to school leavers, and the growing popularity of paid, modern apprenticeships. Jack spoke about his time at Proserv and the advantages of earning while he is learning.

Ultimately, our on-going commitment to our apprentices and partnerships with organisations such as Outward Bound and Hazlehead Academy, are intended to enrich and strengthen the skills of our workforce at Proserv, but we also hope they bolster the breadth of future talent available across the region and provide an introduction to one of the area’s powerhouse industries.