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UK to get first onshore shale colleges

Words: Laura Edgar
Matthew Hancock

Energy minister Matthew Hancock has announced today that the UK will get its first onshore shale and gas colleges.

The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will be based in Blackpool at the Blackpool and The Fylde College, as well as being linked to colleges in Chester, Redcar and Cleveland, Glasgow and Portsmouth.

Speaking at the college today, Hancock explained that shale gas was an opportunity the UK could not afford to miss out on, before going on to ask what would have happened had the UK decided to leave North Sea oil and gas in the ground. He claimed the UK would be poorer and Aberdeen would be a seaside resort rather than a regional powerhouse.

“I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity, with the potential for industry to invest up to £33 billion in the next 15 years or so.

“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs,” he said.

The United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) group led the bid to set up the college and the government is contributing £750,000 to its development, a sum that will be matched by industry bodies and education providers.

The college aims to:

- provide specialist skills, equivalent to A-level and up to postgraduate degree level

- train teachers

- accredit training and academic course run by other institutions

- carry out research on how to improve equipment, materials and processes to increase efficiency

- work with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the industry.

Blackpool and The Fylde College welcomed the news that the National College would be based there. Bev Robinson, principal and chief executive, said: “This is very positive news for Blackpool, the Fylde Coast and the whole of Lancashire. Crucially, this will drive long term investment in the region, meet the demand for highly skilled labour and secure local jobs.”

Image courtesy of the Edge Foundation