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Subsea industry calls in military

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An event aiming to encourage more service leavers into the subsea industry is being held in Aberdeen next week.

Mobilising the Military, run by the subsea industry trade body Subsea UK, will take place on Friday, June 6, at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and encourages former members of the armed forces to transition into roles within the sector.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “Our Mobilising the Military events form a key part of Subsea Target, our ongoing strategy to address the skills shortage within our sector. This particular event helps our members access highly-skilled service leavers, thereby accelerating both the pace and numbers of people with transferable skills coming into the industry.

“Military personnel have a proven track record of being able to effectively transition into subsea roles. Alongside the high level of technical training they possess, they are also equipped with a unique skill set not often shared by civilian counterparts – strong team ethics, adaptability and the ability to think rationally under pressure.”

For Mike Piner, attending the event has taken him down a new career path. Mike had spent over two decades as an engineer with the RAF and was looking to leave the services when he heard about Mobilising the Military.

“I had been fortunate enough to enjoy a long career that had been both successful and enjoyable, but I was still young enough to look for new career opportunities utilising the skills I had developed in the Royal Air Force,” he explained.

“After 23 years it was admittedly a big step to leave. However, I wanted a new challenge in an industry that would offer an interesting career. Because the offshore industry offers this, it is perhaps unsurprising that so many ex-military personnel are attracted to it.

“I had already attended a number of jobs fairs but they had been so busy that it had been difficult to get meaningful face-to-face conversations with the various companies. What sets Mobilising the Military apart is that the CVs of those attending are pre-screened. Companies can identify those job-seekers that they feel may fit in well. From my point of view, because I knew in advance which companies I was meeting with, I was able to prepare properly.

“A few companies asked to interview me on the day which, of course, is a confidence boost. Following the event, I had a second interview with Fugro Subsea Services and was offered a position as a trainee ROV pilot technician. Along with seven other trainees I spent the first fortnight undertaking my BOSIET and MIST training alongside my induction at Fugro’s Aberdeen base. The third week was spent at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, where we learned basic ROV flying skills.”

Shortly after completing his initial training, Mike was sent on his first job, assisting with the replacement of a complete ROV system. Although many would have been daunted to be sent on such a considerable job so early on in a new career, Mike took comfort in the many parallels with the military.

“The camaraderie and banter on board was very similar to that in the services. Furthermore, I come from a background where you are used to delivering under pressure and getting the job done regardless of the difficult circumstances you might find yourself in,” he said.

Mike has since undertaken subsea construction projects and is now working on the construction of a large offshore windfarm, utilising a large-tracked ROV which is digging trenches in preparation for laying pipes and cables.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my new career. It gives me the challenge that I was looking for, enables me to use the skill set that I developed over two decades service with the RAF but, above all else, it has given me the essential work-life balance that many wish for, but find so hard to achieve,” he said.

“I’ve since been told that the hardest job to get in the industry is your first one, and the support that the Subsea Target initiative gave me has been invaluable in setting me on the path to a new career.”

Neil Gordon agrees. “Our members have told us that loyalty and the ability to work under pressure is just as important as academic experience,” he said. “The overriding comments coming back to us are that the personnel are disciplined, keen and quick to learn and are able to draw on previous experience when faced with problems, something that often arises in the sector.
“If you’re in the middle of the North Sea and something doesn’t go according to plan, you need to be able to think rationally and come up with solutions, something that the military are well versed in.

“By encouraging talented service leavers into our industry we can ensure that the UK subsea sector remains the world-leader both in terms of expertise and skills.”