Blackpool is to become home to a £1.5m National College for oil and gas which will train engineers and experts for the entire onshore industry, it was revealed today.
Blackpool and The Fylde College is now set to expand to accommodate the headquarters of the college, complete with facilities including a drill simulator and emergency control simulator, in what is being billed as a major boost for the area.
The facility was announced today by business and energy minister Matthew Hancock.
It will be jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DfB) and the onshore oil and gas industry.
Today Mr Hancock visited the college’s Ashfield Road campus, in Bispham, to officially announce the plans, saying he hopes to make the North West equivalent for the onshore oil and gas industry as Aberdeen is to offshore.
Mr Hancock said: “Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.
“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs.
“That’s why we are investing in the people behind the projects.”
The National College will train the next generation of engineers and specialists for onshore oil and gas, offering qualifications and career opportunities.
The outstanding rated B&FC is currently constructing a £10m Advanced Technology Centre for energy, engineering and manufacturing training and is already a leading provider of safety, survival and fire training to the offshore oil and gas industry.
Mr Hancock added: “Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive..”
The news has been welcomed by Cuadrilla, the energy firm which is looking to drill for shale gas at two Fylde coast sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “We are delighted that the new National College for the onshore oil and gas industry is to have its headquarters at Blackpool and The Fylde College.
“Independent studies have shown the development of a shale gas industry in the region will generate tens of thousands of jobs and this new National College will give the North West region a head start in developing the skills that are needed for a productive shale gas industry.”
Bev Robinson, principal and chief executive at Blackpool and The Fylde College welcomed the announcement. She said: “This is very positive news for Blackpool, the Fylde coast and the whole of Lancashire. We are delighted to be able to contribute to the country’s energy industry and ultimately production capacity.”