Caithness Business Fund Shines a Spotlight on Local Apprentices during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024, powering Skills Generation in the North Highlands. Published on 8th March 2024

In honour of Scottish Apprentice Week 2024, a national celebration of apprenticeships, Caithness Business Fund (CBF) is also highlighting some of the fantastic apprenticeship opportunities it has supported and showcasing the businesses and young people who are driving skills generation across the North Highlands.

The Fund, has now provided support for 20 local apprenticeships across a diverse range of sectors and building on this success has recently announced its new FutureSkills Initiative. Thanks to a significant investment boost of £100,000 from NRS Dounreay and the NDA, the FutureSkills initiative is designed to tackle skills shortages and drive investment in new opportunities for both businesses and young people in the North Highlands.

The Caithness Business Fund gladly supported The Caithness Collection with a contribution towards apprenticeship training for Kian Mackay, who joined the hotel part-time whilst still at school and has already progressed through a professional cookery apprenticeship, before beginning an apprenticeship in hospitality supervision and leadership.

Kian commented “This apprenticeship has been a huge boost to my confidence, knowing someone has invested in me has pushed me to work hard and further my career ambitions. I’ve always felt I learn better by taking an active role in what I am doing, Andrew has been a great mentor, and his support has been invaluable, I would like to advance further within the hospitality industry.”

Andrew Makay, owner of The Caithness Collection commented “The Hospitality sector is brimming with opportunities, and it's certainly a career that can take you all over the world, but there is also a valuable, viable and exciting career opportunity right here in the north Highlands. As an employer, we feel it is our responsibility to nurture our own home-grown talent, so we can cultivate skills, knowledge, and expertise.”

“For us, it's not about keeping them forever, as much as we would love to, but enriching the hospitality sector overall and seeing our young workforce thrive. Support from the Caithness Business Fund is a great boost for our own business, and I would certainly encourage others to apply.”

In 2023, Skye Maccoll and Abigail Hooker joined Gow Groundworks as business administration apprentices and have quickly become invaluable members of the Gow Groundworks team.

Shona Kirk, Gow Groundworks commented “We have been delighted with how hardworking and enthusiastic both our young apprentices are. The opportunity to train and nurture our own talent means we can tailor the training exactly to our business needs. We can already see the impact our apprentices have had on the business and we are excited to see them grow and develop with the business.”

Abigail commented “I went to University and soon realised it wasn’t for me, I wanted to stay closer to home and I wasn’t enjoying the style of study. But this apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to work and learn on the job, we are learning so much about all of the different aspects of running a business, from finance and costings to health and safety, and it has opened my eyes to all of the opportunities and avenues there are for me to pursue my career goals.”

Assistance from the Fund is helping to “level up” access to apprenticeships for small-to-medium enterprises in the North Highlands, ensuring businesses and organisations of all sizes are equipped with skills needed both now and in the future. Eligible SMEs can access grants from the Fund to help with employment and associated training costs for accredited apprenticeship opportunities within their business.

Apprenticeship Grants are available to businesses which can demonstrate a strong commitment to hosting a modern apprenticeship, providing a supportive pathway and desire to grow and create employment. The FutureSkills initiative will offer eligible businesses the opportunity to access financial grant support of up to £24,500 over a maximum period of three years, towards employment and associated training costs of an apprentice.

Trudy Morris, Executive Director of the Caithness Business Fund and CEO of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, managing agent of the Fund, commented:

“It's clear we have some incredibly ambitious and talented young people in the North Highlands. Apprenticeships do have the power to energise the economy and give businesses the skills they need.”

“We are delighted to have the backing of NRS Dounreay and the NDA on this initiative, which recognises the critical importance of apprentices in the workforce. The Caithness Business Fund has a strong track record of delivering on apprenticeship support and this seed funding provides a fantastic platform to help businesses to prosper.”

To find out more about the Caithness Business Fund and the FutureSkills apprenticeship grant scheme contact the Fund team on : Tel: 01847 500104 | Email:

Written by

Caithness Business Fund
Naver Business Centre, Naver House, Naver Road, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7QA

Registered in Scotland: SC450693

T: 01847 500104

Design by Navertech