The first national UK shale colleges have been given the go-ahead by Business, Enterprise & Energy Minister Matthew Hancock MP.
The new centres of excellence will train a generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, helping the UK to seize the economic opportunities offered by natural shale gas.
The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will be headquartered in Blackpool and linked to colleges in Chester, Redcar and Cleveland, Glasgow and Portsmouth.
The Government is providing £750,000 of development funding which will be matched by industry bodies and education providers to develop the College.
Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.
Blackpool and the Fylde College’s Lancashire Energy HQ will deliver a comprehensive range of qualifications up to postgraduate level, with facilities including a drill simulator and emergency control simulator.
The University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton Science Park will deliver a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses as well as specialist masters, MRes and PhD programmes, and has recently been awarded funding to construct an Energy Systems Demonstrator.
Portsmouth’s, Highbury College’s Centre of Excellence in Construction, Energy & Sustainable Technologies provides a comprehensive range of accredited and bespoke courses to support entry to and progression in the onshore energy industry.
The College is also developing strong links with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, located in Calgary, Canada’s hub for oil and gas operations
Redcar and Cleveland College’s Teesside Oil and Gas Academy will deliver a range of accredited and specialist bespoke courses in 2014-15, including Drilling and Petroleum Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, Quality management systems, and Piping and Pipeline Engineering.
The Weir Advanced Research Centre, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will accelerate the development of high pressure pumping, hydraulic fracturing and other above ground hardware together with the training of highly skilled employees to operate the equipment.
The Minister will also be opening the new Advanced Technology Centre. The centre will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment that will become the Centre of Excellence for advanced engineering, technology and energy solutions on the Fylde Coast and across Lancashire.
An estimated 6,000 students from the age of 14 years through to adults will benefit from this training and education every year.