BDA Conference – May 2023 – “Education, Training and Tackling the Skills Shortage in Drilling” – Programme Announced

March 15, 2023

The full programme for the British Drilling Association (BDA) Conference “Education, Training and Tackling the Skills Shortage in Drilling”, being held 11th May 2023, at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, has been released.

The event will commence with a welcome to the and general introduction to the BDA by Richard Fielden, Director, BDA, before handing over to BDA Chair and also Chair of the BDA’s Education & Training Sub-committee, Paul McMann.

Paul will discuss “The BDA and the Future of Geotechnical Training”, with a focus on Apprenticeship, Trailblazer, Audit, Standards, and other initiatives aimed at providing the industry with routes for training and upskilling workforce. His discussion will focus on issues such as the ageing workforce, alternative routes to staff recruitment (ex-forces and ex-offenders) and how good employment practices can help retain, motivate, and make more productive staff.

Paul’s opening will also set the scene for the following presentations, which begin with a keynote presentation.

Phil Warwick, Engagement Advisor, CITB will present “Training and Skills – the national situation”, asking if land drilling is typical or unique compared to other construction industry sectors with regards training and qualifications? Phil will also discuss how the CITB regulates training providers and standards of qualifications, before taking a look at what the future of training looks like and what the CITB doing to help to provide skills and qualifications for the renewable energy sector.

Patrick Bowles, of the Mineral Products Qualifications Council, will be talking on the topic of “Driller Development and why the BDA Audit matters”. Specifically, Patrick will present a summary and promotion of the Audit through MPQC involvement, initial accreditation and subsequent EV of the audit scheme, as well as extolling its virtues of quality and relevance. He will also be asking how the abstractive industry is addressing recruitment and training in areas which may be suffering from skills shortages, how is the industry dealing with perceptions of the work being dirty, tough and dangerous and how many operatives are currently qualified as drill and blast, investigative or other drilling related activity.

Angus Macgregor, BAM Ritchies will discuss “Attracting and retaining staff in land drilling”, asking what are the techniques used by a leading employer to engage and support staff? He will also ask what does ‘good’ look like and how do good employment policies feed into the bottom line?

“Don’t forget the geotechs!” will be tackled by Ground Forum Mentoring Scheme representatives Steve Hadley, Ellie Scott, and Emily Riley, who together will look at how the GFUMP is helping to encourage the next generation of geotechnical engineers and how the Early Careers Group can help to motivate and retain young professionals.

Bounce Back’s Head of Training Karen Baker will asking the thought-provoking question, “Addressing the skills shortage – have you considered employing an ex-offender?” and explain how Bounce Back help ex-offenders into construction jobs and how the BDA and employers can work with the charity to address the skills shortage.

Davide Pegoraro, Area Sales Manager of Comacchio, will present “Look! no hands! The latest developments in labour saving and automated services on drilling equipment”, with an overview of the sector’s latest technology.

Project Recce’s CEO Neil Houlihan and its COO John Davies, will look at “Addressing the skills shortage – employment and opportunities for ex-Forces” – a very skilled and un-tapped potential workforce.

Neil Gowd, Causeway Geotech, will present “Cable percussion drilling in the 21st Century – training the next generation of CP drillers”. Through his presentation, Neil will give a passionate and enthusiastic account on the benefits of CP, why it remains a valuable and essential tool in the ground investigation industry toolbox and how we train operators for what remains a physical job.

Other topics will look at the latest developments in labour saving and automated devices on drilling equipment, how does drilling meet the renewables challenge, and how Land Drilling – Training and Qualifications is viewed from the Perspective of a Customer.

Tickets to the conference cost just – £85 + VAT for BDA members and £110 + VAT for non-members, and a number of FREE places are available to those in the early stages of their career. To find out more, please contact

To register, visit:

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