2014 was a demanding year for the UK oil and gas industry in which we saw some major highs with the discovery of a new field in the Central North Sea, the landmark 15th anniversary of the Upstream Technician Training Scheme and the publication of the Fuelling the Next Generation report; as well as significant lows with rising costs, falling efficiency and the effects of the falling oil price starting to bite.

The past 12 months have also been transformational for OPITO, both in terms of the work we have undertaken and ground-breaking initiatives we have led the way with but also in the new relationships we have forged.

We have had terrific success in the skills arena in particular. The inaugural OPITO National Oil & Gas Skills Week saw unparalleled collaboration across the sector with some 75 organisations committing their time, energy and resources to take part in almost 50 different events the length and breadth of the UK.

We always knew this was an ambitious project and the tremendous support received by organisations of all shapes, sizes and disciplines really demonstrated the importance the industry is willing to place on skills.

Alongside our industry stakeholders, we developed and published the new OPITO approved standard 'Compressed Air Emergency Breathing System (CA-EBS) Initial Deployment Training' in July, as a result of the Civil Aviation Authority report recommendations. Almost 80,000 individuals are now registered in Vantage for the new standard - a great achievement for the industry.

Looking ahead, we are undoubtedly facing testing times as a sector. The focus on skills must continue however if we are to have the workforce we need for the future. We cannot fall into the short-term trap of cutting investment in people when the going gets tough.

We have taken some significant strides in the last year and I look forward to maintaining this collaborative approach to ensure skills are kept on the agenda long term.

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