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Emma Proctor – Trainee Production Operator

Woman standing in orange overalls with sea and oil platform in background

I grew up in an engineering background, with my dad owning a successful fabrication business he started from scratch in an old farm shed. I always had a keen interest in science so knew from quite early on that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in engineering.

When I was choosing my fourth-year subjects at school, I picked mainly science subjects and a technical class. One of my teachers advised me not to take the technical class as it “wasn’t really for girls and I wouldn’t enjoy it”. Disappointed with this advice and feeling embarrassed about my enthusiasm for science, it ultimately led to me losing interest in school and dropping out into jobs that didn’t spark any passion.

After years of switching jobs, at the age of 24 I discovered the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP) which offered an entry route into the energy industry so I could finally pursue my engineering dream. OGTAP particularly appealed to me because it had a good balance of theory and hands-on experience which could help me gain the appropriate skills to kick-start my career in the sector.

The apprenticeship started with two years of college-based training which has given me a great base knowledge of engineering and the process of refining hydrocarbons. I’m now completing my two-year on-the-job training on the Elgin Franklin platform, located in the Central North Sea, where I’m continually developing my understanding of production and process safety.

The wealth of knowledge I have gained on the platform has been incredible – and it’s all down to the amazing mentors and colleagues who have passed on their years of experience. I think it’s important to ask a lot of questions when you’re learning a new skill or trade and from the quality of support I receive, it’s clear that everyone on Elgin Franklin cares about ensuring the next generation will look after the platform and help it continue to achieve production targets.

The highlight of my time as an apprentice so far has without a doubt been receiving a nomination and becoming a finalist in OEUK’s Apprentice of the Year Awards in 2022. The recognition really confirmed that this was the right route into the industry for me.

I hope my career path will inspire others of all ages to pursue their goals as I strongly believe an apprenticeship can begin at any age. To anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship, especially young women, be confident, ignore any stigma surrounding the profession and take advantage of all the opportunities a modern engineering apprenticeship has to offer you. Most important, I’d encourage everyone to do something you enjoy and are passionate about.