Ocean Kinetics & Modern Apprenticeships: Benefiting Shetland Now & Later

Every year, we see a wealth of modern apprenticeship opportunities arise in Shetland and each role is hotly-contested by Shetland’s budding and aspiring mechanics, joiners, plumbers, hairdressers and more, as everyone looks to start on the path to being fully qualified without the need for years of traditional studying or potential debt.

Everyone’s fully aware of the concept of modern apprenticeships, and as mentioned, it’s something that businesses in Shetland’s have really embraced. None more so than Ocean Kinetics, a Shetland-based company that is a true local success story. A business that has evolved and grown over decades and now undertake large projects across the world, including the Antarctic and an abundance of construction and decommissioning projects for the biggest of oil companies.

Ocean Kinetics have been recruiting apprentices since 1999, a year after their first purpose-built buildings were opened and less as a decade since the company’s inception in 1992. In the last decade, they have had 21 starts and continue to take on two new apprentices every year.

Managing Director and Founder, John Henderson said “apprenticeships have been the backbone of our companies training program for almost 20 years, with the right training during and after the apprenticeship it has help create teams of skilled engineers and is key to the company’s success and growth.”

The company, who recently manufactured new kennels for Dogs Against Drugs (who they also sponsor), have always been committed to internal investment and training. From the beginning, John Henderson and the
team at Ocean Kinetics have always been strong supporters of apprenticeship programmes. It allows the apprentices to work closely with highly-skilled peers and with the nationally recognised SVQ3 qualification. With direct access to the company’s future frontline, they can be nurtured, moulded and assessed towards being the level expected by Ocean Kinetics’ clients.

Accompanying both the SVQ3 qualification with on-the-job training, all within an engineering environment, means that after three years Ocean Kinetics will have another highly-skilled member of staff that can bring in new ideas and value to new projects brought to them by a vast range of both local and national clients.

When speaking about recent successes, John mentioned Gary Sutherland who “completed his apprenticeship a few years ago but has continued his training and is now carrying out coded pipe welding for the petrochemical industry to the highest standard, he also uses the skills he gained during his apprenticeship to carry out skilled welding and fabrication works to our most demanding clients.”

Successes like this do not come easily and require a lot of effort and commitment both financially and with time.

The resourceful and time investment into Shetland’s youth isn’t just a beneficial one for Ocean Kinetics. As they take on new projects and explore new avenues there’s a multitude of ways that this benefits Shetland and the community - in both the interim as well as decades further down the line.

Apprenticeship programmes with Ocean Kinetics are highly-sought after as they provide a platform for successful engineering, this helps Shetland retain some of the most talented school leavers rather than lose them to universities and careers off the Island.

Furthermore, retaining such talent in Shetland in the longer-term, within such organisations like Ocean Kinetics has big advantages for the Isles. This is as Shetland will continue to prosper as a place full of some of the countries best tradespeople as the we continue to thrive in oil & gas and explore renewables. This will keep the world leaders returning to Shetland which will work wonders for new opportunities and help drive the local economy.

Train Shetland, who play a crucial role in Shetland’s apprenticeships, are part of the Shetland Islands Council as part of the Development Directorate. They directly contribute to the Council’s 10-year plan to encourage people to live, work and study in Shetland.


Kevin Briggs, the Joint Manager for Train Shetland said that they “help and support local businesses such as Ocean Kinetics to take on apprentices, and to take advantage of government funding through Skills Development Scotland. More and more companies continue to get involved, which demonstrates the success that’s been had over the years in generating a talented and loyal workforce.”

Kevin added that the “college-based training for engineering is delivered locally at the NAFC, meaning that the engineers do not have to leave the Isles. The apprentices submit their work to the assessors who also go out to the workplaces to observe the apprentices in the workplace as part of their assessment process.”

Are you interested to hear more about apprenticeship opportunities? Either as an employee or employer? Please visit Train Shetland. If you’re wanting to see what Ocean Kinetics have done recently and could offer you, please find them here.

If you are interested in a featured piece or have suggestions of local organisations or groups that merit discussing. Please get in touch with regan@jlpinternet.com.