Ministers have agreed to set up a national fracking college as part of a plan to create a wave of shale gas extraction engineers.
Business, enterprise and energy minister Matthew Hancock gave the go-ahead for the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, which will be headquartered in Blackpool
It will be linked to five existing colleges across the UK that will also deliver courses relevant to the controversial activity.
The government has thrown its weight behind shale gas and expects hydraulic fracturing to begin next year, after calling this summer for applications for onshore drilling licenses.
Hancock said today: “Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on. I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity, with the potential for industry to invest up to £33bn in the next 15 years or so.
“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain, which could create 64,500 jobs.
“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 government is providing £750,000 of development funding, which will be matched by industry bodies and education providers to develop the national college.
The Blackpool institution will provide qualifications from A-Level equivalents to postgraduate degrees. It will train teachers and regulators as well as accrediting courses run elsewhere, carrying out research and development studies, and working with schools.
Further courses and development work will take place at:
- Blackpool and the Fylde College’s Lancashire Energy HQ
- University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering
- Highbury College’s Portsmouth-based Centre of Excellence in Construction, Energy and Sustainable Technologies
- Redcar and Cleveland College’s Teesside Oil and Gas Academy
- Weir Advanced Research Centre, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow
Hancock will also today open an Advanced Technology Centre for high-level engineering, technology and energy training across Lancashire.
Oil and gas trade body the UK Onshore Operators Group called earlier this year for a vocational institution similar to that planned for High Speed 2 to be set up for the shale gas industry.