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Samantha Buchan - The ‘Skills Gap’ Engineer

The media and industry experts have made much of the growing ‘skills gap’ over recent years. With a whole generation of experienced employees due to retire from industries including materials joining and engineering, there is a real concern about who will replace them.

However, what appears to be a problem for business is actually creating opportunity for young people like Samantha Buchan of Score (Europe) Ltd; providers of valve repair and engineering solutions for the North Sea Oil & Gas industry.

Samantha admits that she disliked school and was keen to leave formal education, but the question was, what would she do for a living?

This question was answered during a presentation at a college open day, when Peterhead-based Score (Europe) Ltd visited and spoke of how they needed new people to join the company. They noted how an aging workforce and a lack of new recruits was storing up problems for the future of their industry, while also stating that they were intent on attracting more women into engineering.

What was a problematic situation for Score was a great opportunity for Samantha, who decided to join as an apprentice Mechanical Engineer, and has not looked back since. The apprenticeship led to Samantha gaining a Modern Apprenticeship and SVQ (Scotland’s equivalent to the NVQ) in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering and a HNC/HND in Mechanical Engineering.

Learning her trade on the job, Samantha became one of 12 mechanical engineers at her company, while revealing that her work has seen her specialise in welding after the retirement of their Senior Welding Engineer, alongside another colleague who is also completing training with TWI. Although she assists her colleague with welding work and fills in for him while he is away, as he approaches retirement age, Samantha will find herself called upon to take his place.

As a result, Score (Europe) Ltd have paid for Samantha to undertake training with TWI, where she qualified as an Engineering Technologist. Having also recently trained for her Engineering Specialist certification, Samantha explained that she found this latest step on her journey easier, as she had accrued more knowledge and experience in the interim.

Samantha revealed that the training facilities at TWI were better than elsewhere, while getting the chance to speak to experts in various areas of welding gave her an added insight into processes that she can now apply in her own work. She also noted that, by staying on site at TWI for her training, she was conveniently placed and able to spend time speaking with her fellow trainees while she was learning.

Certainly doing her bit to fill the ‘skills gap,’ Samantha’s training has made her more valuable for her employer, but she is not finished yet, as she plans to keep progressing until she achieves Chartered Engineer status.

Not only has Samantha taken the opportunity posed by the industry skills gap, but she was also keen to note that her employer has made great strides in encouraging more women into engineering. Currently, one third of the intake at Score (Europe) Ltd are females, but they hope to see this rise to 50% and, with people like Samantha acting as an inspiration, there is no reason why they can’t achieve this.

Samantha Buchan