As one of The Underwater Centre’s Student Advisors, a question I get asked a lot is what offshore work opportunities are there once students have completed their training as a commercial diver or an ROV pilot tech?
The drop in oil prices is obviously delaying investment plans at the moment, particularly in the North Sea; however there are opportunities in other fields outwith the oil and gas industry.
Offshore wind and the renewables sector
The renewables sector is expanding rapidly; 2015 saw the busiest year yet and there are many new offshore windfarm developments taking place right now, for example the Hornsea One Project from DONG Energy, with many others planned. A further 14 wind farms are to be commissioned off the coast of the UK before 2020. The government is aiming for a target of 25% of the UK’s energy to be provided by offshore wind by 2030. Take a look at the articles and offshore work opportunities available in Offshore Wind Energy Today.
Decommissioning and marine salvage
As decommissioning of older oil rigs and platforms in the North Sea continues, the marine salvage industry is going from strength to strength. Read more about current projects on the Decom North Sea website, including Norway’s announcement of the value of their decommissioning market, here.
A recent report from Douglas Westwood also predicts a decommissioning boom; with around 146 platforms being removed from the UKCS during 2019-2026, due to the age of the platforms; read the full article here.
Add to your CV and experience with more skills and tools training
If you are determined and focused to work as a commercial diver or ROV pilot technician you will discover there are more opportunities available to you than the media would lead you to believe.
Ensure the training you complete gives you valuable certificates and provides you with hands on experience in skills such as subsea tools; welding and burning, rigging and slinging, or bolt tensioning, for example. Similarly, as an ROV pilot, certificates such as High Voltage or Working at Height, as well as more specific training, such as Titan 4 Manipulator Training, will all help.
You will find that these additional skills are what employers are looking for.
Current student feedback
Speaking to some of our recent students on our diving and ROV courses gives an indication of the demand from these different industries too. Traditionally our student base was predominantly those attracted to certifications to qualify to seek offshore opportunities in oil and gas; this is changing as we see many discovering work in renewables, marine salvage or harbour developments.
These students are coming to The Underwater Centre to make the most of the new opportunities being presented to them:
- A group of closed bell students all working for a European company. The company are expanding their resources to ensure their staff have the skillset to be capable of decommissioning work in the North Sea. They are seeing demand and contracts for work in this area increasing.
- Some students on our commercial air diving courses are involved in harbour developments in Scottish waters, including at Lerwick Port and the Bantry Harbor Development Project.
- In the renewables sector, we had an interesting student working for a Dutch company which has grown exponentially to meet market demands. The student in question was training to further his skillset by attending our Fibre Optics training module so that he would be competent and confident to work as an ROV Superintendent.
So you can see that commercial divers and ROV pilot technicians don’t need to rely solely on the oil and gas industry.
Lorna MacPherson is one of The Underwater Centre’s Student Advisors. She and her colleagues are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about training just now. Get in touch with Lorna, Ingrid or Maggie if you have any questions about the opportunities available once you’ve completed your training; call +44 1397 703786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for… Choosing Equipment
We are divers…we all love the nice new shiny dive toys right?! But, how do we choose what is best to get? The best brand or because it’s orange? In our experience, we suggest that ultimately it comes down to what you are going to use it for.
Each year we have divers come onto our dive boat or for shore diving with their light fins that are perfect for the Red Sea, but end up with their feet in the air in a drysuit; and their regulators which are not cold water rated ultimately ending up in free-flow. So, our first suggestion with equipment is to not only consider the purchase based on what your current diving entails, but consider your future aspirations.
This does not just relate to warm water and cold water diving, but what you may consider in the future in relation to specialities. Will you be looking to progress into Advanced diving and using Nitrox? Then purchase a dive computer with this capability. It is easy to jump into buying dive equipment just because we want it now! But take a moment to consider your future diving journey.
I guess the next question that we get asked all of the time is what to buy? What items as a new diver should we get? Admittedly what we suggest and what others suggest will vary, however our personal suggestion is to get your own mask and dive computer. An ill-fitting mask will make your diving far from enjoyable and so this should (in our opinion) be a first for all divers, and a dive computer – well, we all want to start logging our dives!
Not only that, but these are two items you can take with you anywhere in the world… easy to pack into your suitcase and not specific to a local area. Getting these two items start your equipment purchase journey but also gives you the time to try the other items such as regulators and BCD’s and see what best works for you.
The last tip of ours in relation to equipment is… don’t rush into buying and buy what YOU want. Just because someone else has it, does not mean that it will work for you. If you want a red framed mask yet the store only has yellow, wait for the red to come on order. If you purchase correctly, you can most definitely have these same items for a number of years, especially when looked after correctly. Get it right the first time and save yourself the headache of extra expense in the future.
Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com
Jump into… Starting a charity
As if having two dive centres and Scuba Escape was ‘not enough’, I also decided, last year, to set up a charity for mental health in diving. Why? Because it seemed as though it was not just my personal experience demonstrating a need for this. Some of you may or may not be aware of certain issues that prevailed in the previous year, what you do not know are the stories from the previous four years before that. We can leave that conversation for another time though!
We usually see diving as a way to improve our mental health, at least I hope that is the case for most of you. A minority of others, despite loving the activity, are subject to bullying within our industry. Don’t just take my word for it. From a survey completed by over 250 of you in the UK, 72% of you said that you had either been bullied, or witnessed bullying. 62% said that this still exists. A scary thought for our amazing industry.
So what are the actual issues? Many of you stated that the bullying related to agencies or equipment, a person’s size, gender and age were also focal points within the survey. All things that have no bearing on us undertaking Scuba Diving at all. This presented the need for the charity. People completing this survey had stated that they remain with these individuals or organisations because they have nowhere to go, yet want to dive; others also stating that they stopped diving altogether because of having no other place. That then became the idea for the ‘Just Scuba Charity’, which is, as it says, Just Scuba. No politics, nobody caring what equipment you are using… Or what size your drysuit is… just diving.
The charity will be starting up this year as I have been waiting, and successfully obtaining, charitable status. We will be asking for divers wishing to volunteer as ‘dive buddies’ that others having personal issues with their mental health in diving can come to, and just dive. To find a new network of friendly, non-judgemental people to share their passion of the water. Other aspects of the charity will include mental health support options for divers to access, information on how to respond to bullying, to challenge the behaviour or report it, and for those feeling like they have nowhere to turn, a contact email and chat to access support.
Whether you have been affected by bullying within diving or not, unfortunately it does exist and now is the time for us all to come together and stand up to this, to protect our diving community.
If you have not yet checked out the charity, please visit www.thejustscubacharity.org
Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com
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