Creating clear career paths is essential if the UK drilling industry is to tackle the current skills shortage, according to British Drilling Association (BDA) chairman Andrew Stevenson.
Speaking at GE’s Ground Investigation conference today, Stevenson announced that the BDA is launching a craft-based Level 3 NVQ in a bid to improve professional development in the sector.
“The new qualification will recognise the capabilities of highly skilled drillers and raise expectations with clients,” said Stevenson, who is also ground investigation manager for Bam Ritchies.
“There is increased activity in the industry as a result of HS2, nuclear new builds, renewable energy and rail work,” he said. “These are exciting times and there are better opportunities for growth than there have been since the credit crunch.
“However, we lost many skilled workers during the recession. Training and quality is a major focus of the BDA and its members.”
Stevenson also called on the industry to improve conditions in order to make drilling a more attractive career choice. “We ask our workers to be outdoors in all weathers and spend long periods away from home,” he explained. “That is unlikely to change but through introduction of technologies such as remote controlled rigs we can improve the wellbeing of our workforce.”
According to Stevenson, alternative technologies such as sonic drilling, geophysics and CPT should be embraced and clients must absorb the costs.”