An entrepreneurial programme is aiming to unlock the oil and gas industry’s forgotten talent.
Grey Matters is targeting the sector’s redundant workforce.
Utilising an intensive 16-week programme, the scheme will help budding business owners develop their strategies and identify market potential.
Industry veteran John Harris is leading the Elevator programme, which is funded by Scottish Enterprise. It’s the second cohort for the successful springboard.
Mr Harris said: “The Pilot Programme was hosted after some pretty brutal rounds of redundancies in the oil and gas industry.
“Elevator is targeting people that have been made redundant or want to take on a new challenge, who have aspirations to run their own business or ideas about how things can be done differently to make the industry better, but may not have the previous business skills.”
Several of Grey Matters’ graduates are now operating their own successful ventures.
Mr Harris said: “It’s amazing to see that these businesses would not have been in existence without the programme, and they’ve come back and said that.”
The programme manager added: “Starting a business is a hard thing to do, even if it’s the best idea in the world. It’s also a lonely thing to do. What we achieve through this programme is the bringing together of like-minded and complimentary skilled people, to reach a goal much quicker with a greater likelihood of success.
“We have an amazing pool of talent in the north-east that is not being fully accessed. If you think about the skills and qualifications in the oil and gas industry and the resilience it brings people, including the aptitude for just plain hard work, I think we are able to tap into that and adapt it, which will lead to a very fruitful and prominent future.”
Whether the programme’s graduates go on to launch their own businesses or just hone their skills set, this is a much-needed “force for good”, according to its leader.
“The last couple of years have been pretty depressing in the industry and that can feed on itself in a community, but if there are opportunities taking people out of that environment, then optimism can feed too, and people can begin to see that light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Harris said.
“The landscape and the tools that are being put together through initiatives like this are creating opportunities for people to realise ambitions that they might have harboured, but haven’t previously been in a position to materialise.
“Even if they don’t end-up launching their own business they become a lot more marketable to other companies.”
The play-on-words programme is looking to attract the “grey-end” of the industry workforce.
“What we absolutely want to capitalise on is the skills, experience and maturity of the senior-end of the workforce scale. They need to come to the table with some relevant experience and skills.” Mr Harris said.
“This particular programme was aimed at the senior-side of the spectrum, because that can be a neglected space, but not exclusively so. We’re also keen to cross fertilise that with some ‘green talent’ who possess a modern or current way of thinking and working in the digital age.”
He added: “There are a lot of people who may be frustrated by the processes and rigidity in the places they’ve worked.
“There are people who want to go out and make a difference and have that ownership of an idea or business and know they have the time to do it. And we have the resources to help them through that process.
“If you have 25 years or more of experience in the oil and gas industry, you should know where the pain points are. You should know what is needed to move the dial and that’s what we’re asking to be brought to the table.”
The programme will kick-start on January 25th 2018 with 20 fully-funded places which are open for applications until 15th January 2018. The application process includes a quick form and a follow-up interview. For more information or to apply click here.