A team of new engineers from Kurdistan have visited Teesside’s TTE to receive world-class training to prepare them for work in their home country’s oil fields.

The group, from global oil and gas company HKN Energy, arrived in Middlesbrough in March and have been learning from TTE’s expert tutors at the world-renowned training centre over the past 26 weeks.

Having all previously completed academic engineering qualifications to at least degree level, TTE was selected to provide the candidates with technical skills, safe working practices and, through its on-site pilot plant, assessment and provision of internationally recognised certification of competence.

John Cooke, operations manager at TTE, explained: “The fact that we get learners from all over the world at TTE’s Middlesbrough facility just goes to show the reputation we have on Teesside for technical skills training like this.

“Our guests from Kurdistan have been on a variety of programmes that will equip them with the skills to be technicians with various specialisms, including instrumentation, electrical, and process.

“They’ve been with us for 26 weeks; in which time we’ve covered a lot of ground to prepare them for jobs back on some of the most strategically important plants in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

HKN’s operations in Kurdistan are growing, involving a shift from barrelling to pipeline, and TTE has supported this transition through its bespoke training programmes delivered on Teesside. This is the first time visiting the UK for all of the learners, and the first time outside of their home country for some, so the team at TTE arranged extracurricular activities and trips to sites around the UK to enhance their experience.

33-year-old Birhat Nasrullah said: “Over the past five months, we have been training within the TTE plant, gaining new qualifications and skills to put into practice back at HKN, and I’ve built skills I can put into practice often in my day-to-day role at home.

“The tutors at TTE really know their stuff too. They answered any questions we had quickly and confidently which has improved our learning for the better.

“Since our time training at TTE, we’ve also had the opportunity to travel and explore different cities within the UK, visiting 10 different cities in total including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds. This has helped us understand British culture, and how much it differs from our culture back in Kurdistan.

“As you can imagine the sights to see are so different here than back home in Kurdistan – you could say chalk and cheese almost. It has been great to see and visit places we have never seen before; however, I am excited to go home to see my family, and eat home-cooked food, I have really missed that!”

Birhat’s colleague and classmate Yazdeen Simoqy, 29, added: “I have always had a keen interest in engineering and worked at a local engineering company after finishing my degree in electrical and computer engineering. I then joined HKN as there was room to gain new opportunities.

“I feel excited to train internationally again and think the experience has been great. The tutors at TTE have been perfect – I couldn’t fault them, or the support they have given us, at all!”

34-year-old Samie Abdulsamad added: “This isn’t something everyone gets the opportunity to do – we’re all very lucky.”

John added: “We’ve worked with HKN’s team to shape a programme that will create long lasting skills and secure its workforce for many years to come.

“Our training programmes are bespoke and we’re really proud of the fact we work with international companies of this scale to provide the skills they need.”