NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

From cutbacks to haircuts for oil workers looking for change

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Media captionOil workers make radical career changes

It is difficult to imagine two more different worlds.

The often harsh offshore conditions of an oil and gas industry life, and what might be regarded as the somewhat more pampered, hipster world of barbering.

However that is the slick transition that some oil workers who have lost their jobs are making. And they seem to be loving it.

Image caption The former oil workers are being trained at the James Dun's House hairdressers in Aberdeen

Aberdeen hairdresser James Dun's House recently advertised for trainee barbers for a new salon they are opening up.

Co-owner Dean Walker said he was surprised to get applications from former oil workers looking to change career.

Three of them have now taken up the scissors and wax and are well on the way to becoming barbers.

Mr Walker intends to set up a training centre at James Dun's House where former oil and gas workers can learn the barbering and hairdressing trade.

'Really cool'

He said: "Surprisingly there was quite a lot of interest from the oil and gas sector, from guys looking to change the direction of their career.

"We are used to getting people straight from school, so there's an element of maturity (with the oil and gas workers) and a willingness to learn.

"They are really keen to get going.

"Barbering's become a really cool thing, very trendy."

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Image caption Hairdressing is a completely different environment from offshore work

One of the trainees, Alan Gibson, 34, worked in oil and gas for 17 years before being made redundant.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "I had a look around but there was not much out there.

"Barbering is something that I have always quite fancied.

"I am quite good with my hands and have a good eye for detail. New is always good."

'Stepping forward'

Skills Development Scotland (SDS), which supports and advises oil workers who have lost their jobs or who are facing redundancy, told BBC Scotland that there is evidence that an increasing number of former oil and gas workers are being forced to seek careers outside the industry.

Mike Duncan, director of Energy Skills Scotland - part of SDS - said: "Barbering is not something we initially thought of as a retraining opportunity, but I'm delighted to hear an Aberdeen business is stepping forward and teaching these guys the trade."

The barbers are due to complete their training at the end of the summer and are looking forward to a new workplace, a new career and a new future.

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