West of Orkney Windfarm provides £50,000 to north Highland apprenticeship scheme. Published on 27th May 2024

Businesses and apprentices in the north Highlands can look forward to developing new skills for a greener future, thanks to additional support from the West of Orkney Windfarm.

The windfarm developer – which is planning a major offshore windfarm 25km off the Sutherland coast – has donated £50,000 to support a new apprenticeship programme.  

The funds will go to FutureSkills, an apprenticeship grant scheme designed to tackle skills shortages and drive investment in new opportunities for businesses and young people in Caithness and north Sutherland.

The initiative is being led by the Caithness Business Fund and will offer eligible businesses the opportunity to access grant support of up to £24,500 over a maximum period of three years, towards employment and associated training costs of an apprentice. 

It was established in March this year with initial funding from NRS Dounreay and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The announcement was made last week (May 22) as members of the West of Orkney Windfarm team visited Caithness for a series of meetings including Scrabster Harbour Trust, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Wick John O’Groats Airport and JGC Engineering and Technical Services.

Stuart McAuley, Project Director, West of Orkney Windfarm, said:

“The West of Orkney Windfarm has an ambition to deliver a world-leading energy project which will create long term social and economic benefits for businesses and communities in the north of Scotland.

“This will include employment opportunities through the construction phase and for many years of operation, and we would like as many of these jobs as possible to go to local firms. It is terrific to see local businesses already embracing this exciting new world.

“This donation is an investment in this future and will help up-skill young workers so they can participate in Scotland’s offshore wind energy industry – which will become a major force in the years ahead.”

In addition to the apprentice scheme support, West of Orkney Windfarm has kick-started a number of other initiatives in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney including a £1 million research and innovation programme at EMEC, a £900,000 pan-industry programme to support ten new STEM coordinators across the UHI partnership, and £125,000 to enable up to seven local companies to take part in the rigorous 12-18 month Fit For Offshore Renewables (F4OR) development programme.  

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

“Caithness Chamber has been engaged with the West of Orkney Windfarm for a number of years now and we are delighted they are able to support this excellent apprenticeship scheme.

“It’s open to businesses that can demonstrate a strong commitment to hosting a modern apprenticeship and targets SMEs with the aim of facilitating new apprenticeship opportunities to stimulate business growth and overcome potential financial barriers.

“I’d encourage local firms to apply.”

Written by comms@caithnesschamber.com

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