Former offshore workers are swapping black gold for blackboards – and carving out new careers in the classroom.
The “pioneering” first batch of recruits to the Transition into Education Scheme will help ease a staffing crisis at Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s academies.
They will fill key roles delivering maths and science lessons to secondary pupils across the north-east.
The Transition into Education Scheme (TIES) was launched with the twin goal of tackling oil and gas industry redundancies and classroom shortages.
It is funded through the Scottish Government’s £12million Transition Training Fund and delivered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with the local authorities and Aberdeen University.
And it is also expected to improve links between educators and businesses.
The 19 fledgling teachers will have to adjust to the lower salaries on offer – but said they were grateful to be offered a new way of using their skills and knowledge.
A teacher in their probation year can expect to earn just under £22,000, according to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union.
In its global salary guide for 2015, oil and gas recruitment firm Hays said operators paid graduates £34,000 on average.
Teachers’ pay does not rise to that level until they have been in the job for about five years, according to the EIS’s salaries guide.
The teachers will undertake a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) at Aberdeen University.
Yesterday they attended an induction meeting at Aberdeenshire Council.
They will teach subjects which tie-in with their professional backgrounds – including maths, chemistry and physics – and plug the hard-to-fill gaps in schools.
They will work as full-time graduate education assistants while they study their PGDE and then have a probationary year in north-east schools.
They have also agreed to teach for a further two years in the region, Aberdeenshire Council said.
The local authority is employing 12 of the teachers and the city council has taken on seven.
Currently, there are almost 100 teaching vacancies in Aberdeen City Council – 39 in secondary schools – and Aberdeenshire Council has 34 full-time posts empty, along with a number of part-time and head teacher positions.
Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege yesterday described TIES as an innovative approach to getting the capacity and expertise needed by local schools.
He also said the new recruits were embarking on the “most fulfilling and rewarding experience you are ever going to have”.
He added: “I am thankful for the support we have received from government and the university to get to the stage of doing something that’s never been done in this country before.”
And he told the new teachers: “You are pioneers and the experience you are going to bring to schools will be really welcome.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s director of education and children’s services, Maria Walker, said: “It is difficult to recruit maths and science graduates so having people come back from industry gives us a chance to grow our own.
“It also provides a great link between industry and schools, which will be very beneficial.”
Aberdeen City Council’s education and children’s services committee convener Angela Taylor said she was delighted the scheme had been put in place at the council’s suggestion and that she hoped it would run again next year.
Mike Duncan, director of Energy Skills Scotland, which is part of SDS, said: “This is a great example of the Transition Training Fund responding to the individual and the wider economic needs of the region.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:“We recognise the challenges facing the oil and gas sector and through the Transition Training Fund we are supporting workers who have faced redundancy back into employment, and at the same time providing more teachers for the north-east of Scotland.
“This scheme will have a major impact on people, supporting them to have a new start in a fulfilling career educating Scotland’s young people and I wish all the best to those beginning their new jobs on Monday.”
Read how Bob Forsyth started again after a 35-year oil and gas career here.
Read why Russell Bolton took off to the slopes after being made redundant here.