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Retention rate soars at FES

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World Pipelines,

Engineering firm FES has reported its staff retention levels, with 62% of staff working there for five years or more – and a quarter giving over a decade of service.

A handful of staff are approaching 18 years with the British business, which provides fluid transfer solutions to the offshore industry, as it prepares to mark its 20th anniversary later this year.

Since 2014, the oil and gas supply chain business has recorded an average staff retention rate of 96%, despite operating in a sector that has seen mass redundancies amid falling oil prices in recent years.

Projects this year include the delivery and installation of key components to oil and gas fields off the coasts of Ghana, Indonesia and China.

Despite job cuts elsewhere in the sector, FES avoided any redundancies as the oil price halved from US$100 per barrel in 2014 to as low as US$50 last year, with current levels still low at US$70.

The company believes that a range of products used globally and designed to improve efficiencies and cost-effectiveness are key to its success.

Among them is the Diverless Bend Stiffener Connector (DBSC), used to connect components that strengthen pipelines and umbilicals where they join rigid structures. FES has supplied some 400 projects around the world to date.

Mark Latimer, Business Services Manager, said: “We’ve certainly been able to keep our staff busy and give them job security in recent years. Our competitors have been laying people off and cutting hours down as the oil price has dipped, but this hasn’t happened here. Although our staff reproduce the same product lines, each project comes with different scale and tolerance requirements, so the work is varied too. We also maintain a pleasant working environment, thanks to the expansion of our Ashington site by 12 000 ft2 in 2014. It’s a really nice space with plenty of room for staff to move around.”

Another important factor in its high retention rates has been the drive to develop new skills through apprenticeships and ongoing staff training.

Research published earlier this year by Engineering UK suggests an additional 1.8 million engineers and technically qualified people are needed in Britain by 2025. FES is playing its part in plugging the engineering skills gap by bringing new apprentices into the sector each year. FES believes that getting young people on board brings fresh enthusiasm to the workplace, and motivates existing staff to pass on their valuable skills.

Most recently, 20-year-old Cameron Ferguson was appointed as a full-time junior project engineer, having successfully completed a four-year apprenticeship with the company.

Latimer added: “While we are proud of our excellent staff retention, we also recognise the need to nurture and grow young talent for the future – for the good of our own success and the UK’s engineering sector.”

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