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“Our mission is simple: get people home safe to their families,” says Gary Concar, CEO and Centre Manager of Offshore Africa Training Centre (OATC), the business he owns and operates with his wife, Louise. The people Gary refers to, are those employed in the offshore oil and gas industry, traveling to and from various locations by helicopter on a regular basis and working in rigging and lifting operations at sea.

OACT offers training and competence assessment courses for rigging and lifting operations, as well as offshore survival courses for individuals working in the offshore oil and gas industry. Gary has almost 20 years of offshore rigging and lifting experience and has been training and assessing these courses since he founded OATC IN 2013 and gained Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) approvals in 2014. Louise joined the growing business full time in 2018 as a Business Manager, having completed an honours degree in Business Science in Marketing at the University of Cape Town and bidding farewell to the corporate world after 24 successful years.

In 2021, the Concars were introduced to Business Partners Limited by a property agent that was facilitating the potential sale of a building to them. The building, located a few minutes from Cape Town International Airport, had great potential to set up the bespoke facility that they had envisioned for years. The Business Partners Limited property loan secured the building, but Gary and Louise had bigger plans.

“Business Partners Ltd wanted us to take three or four years to generate cash flow to develop the OPITO offshore survival courses, as they are high capital investment courses, but we got itchy feet,” remembers Gary. “We built the indoor heated pool and then secured a loan from Business Partners Ltd to fund the equipment.” The company also received a Technical assistance loan. In December 2023, OATC gained approvals from the OPITO for the suite of 7 offshore survival courses. In February 2024, Gary and Louise hosted an industry event to celebrate the new centre and facilities, the additional internationally approved OPITO courses and the 10th anniversary for OATC.

OACT services both the corporate and private market with learners coming from within South Africa, West Africa, East Africa and some from abroad. The market is a sizeable one and OATC get repeat business because all certification expires. The technical courses expire every 2 years and the offshore survival courses expire every 4 years and learners need to return to OATC to renew their certification.

The offshore survival courses are all equipped with Compress Air Emergency Breathing System (CAEBS) equipment and include OPITO, Basic Offshore Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET) which consists of an online theory component and practical training involving the centre’s state-of-the-art HUET simulator; Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) and; OPITO and Further Off-shore Emergency Training (FOET). Depending on the course, Gary’s team of instructors and staff can train between 8 and 16 learners daily.

Gary says that “additional focus is being placed on marketing and awareness for OATC and the internationally recognized courses that we offer”. Social media is currently the main marketing channel being used, however the launch event that was held recently in February attracted a lot of media article features which opened many doors for OATC. “There is still so much we want to do,” he concludes. “We have big plans and ambitions to be a truly world-class facility.”

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