UK government rolls out North Sea mentoring scheme

The Oil & Gas Mentoring Initiative�an innovative government-backed scheme designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK offshore industry bring their services and technology more quickly to market�was launched today in Aberdeen.

LONDON�An innovative government-backed mentoring scheme designed to aid small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK offshore industry in bringing their services and technology more quickly to market was launched today in Aberdeen.

Through the scheme�the Oil & Gas Business Mentoring Initiative�senior executives from oil industry mainstays including BP, Royal/Dutch Shell Ltd., Halliburton Co., and Wood Group Engineering PLC, will work in "close partnership" with 20 SMEs across the UK over 18 months to "develop ways to better align business strategies and practices."

It is hoped the scheme, launched by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and government-industry partnership body Pilot, will help SMEs build a greater understanding of the industry's future needs, while giving major oil companies and contractors a "better insight" into issues facing suppliers and service specialists.

DTI Oil and Gas Directorate Director Geoff Dart described the initiative as "groundbreaking," saying it would "provide real opportunities to break down those perceived barriers to close working relationships" the length of the supply chain.

The initiative, according to the DTI, aims to respond to the view that SMEs will be responsible for "[many of the] new technologies need to build a competitive and sustainable future for the North Sea."

First order of business for the mentors and the SMEs, said the DTI, will be drawing up a strategic program identifying "improvements" to be made in both the mentor company and its charge. The work will be supported by the formation of a new network�the Mentors & Mentees (M&M) Club�which will meet quarterly to discuss the scheme's progress, and will launch a web site as well.

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