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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 March 2007, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Offshore partnership with Rosyth
Rosyth dockyard
The Rosyth dockyard carries out work on navy vessels
An oil and gas industry firm has formed an alliance which will see workers at the Rosyth naval dockyard in Fife being used offshore, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Petrofac has joined forces with Babcock International Group for the "groundbreaking" cross-skilling plan.

Scores of workers are now set to be taught how to convert their skills through training before going offshore.

Amicus, the manufacturing union, said it hoped it would set a precedent across the country.

Jobs have been lost at Rosyth in recent years, while there are skills shortages in the offshore industry.

Cross-skilling is definitely the way forward for industry. We have to grasp more opportunities like this
Paddy Mallan

Petrofac, a service provider for the oil and gas production and processing industry, also intends offering the new skills base to its partner companies in the Offshore Contractors' Association (OCA).

The core skills at Babcock have been identified as a good fit for the oil and gas industry, and it is therefore seen as making sense to use surplus labour in this way.

Paddy Mallan, integrated operations director at Petrofac, said: "We have worked hard to achieve this contractual relationship between ourselves and Babcock, not only to retain the skill sets but maintain them in Scotland.

"Cross-skilling is definitely the way forward for industry. We have to grasp more opportunities like this.

"These workers have excellent skills in terms of welding, pipe fitting, rigging and general heavy industry and engineering trades as well as technical skills which are all transferable to the oil and gas industry."

Skills solution

He explained: "We can utilise these highly-skilled workers when they are available. They will learn how to convert their skills before going offshore, which is likely to be during the shutdown season between May and September."

Ken Munro, head of personnel at Babcock Engineering Services, said: "This is a groundbreaking contract which enables Babcock to continue to commit our high-quality service to our customer base.

Oil workers
The Rosyth workers will be trained to use their skills offshore

"In addition, we will be providing a long-term solution to the skills shortage in the North Sea oil and gas sector.

"Our employees are real tradesmen whose skills are second to none. Furthermore, the beauty of this contractual agreement is that the employees do not have to relocate to work in the North Sea oil industry."

Graham Tran, Amicus regional officer, said: "This is a magnificent initiative and Amicus were instrumental in bringing the parties together.

"This deal is not another quick fix, short-term solution that we often see in the oil and gas industry, this will help address long-term skills shortages that we face.

"It is our intention to have this initiative raised at national level within Amicus with the view to extending it to the UK shipbuilding and repair industry as a whole. Further we will explore the possibility of having a similar agreement within the UK aerospace sector."

See more details of the deal

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