Energy & business services:
• The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm development continues to make good progress, with an amazing 80 of the 86 sets of foundation piles now installed on the seabed off the Caithness coast. In addition 25 of the jackets have now been fitted on top of foundation piles and cable-laying has also begun. As SSE’s Steven Wilson highlighted at a recent Caithness Chamber of Commerce event, progress over the summer has been extremely encouraging, and keeps the project on track to become operational in 2019. More at the BOWL Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/beatricewind) or at http://renews.biz/108756/shl-plants-beatrice-foundations/ And it is interesting to note that as offshore construction continues, new technologies are being used to drive progress, with a monitoring system developed by supplier RED Engineering being highlighted for its beneficial impact on Tier 1 contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting’s operations. http://renews.biz/108798/beatrice-monitors-lifting-kit/
The scale of the jackets for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project is clear when you consider the size of the people standing on top of the structure. (image courtesy BOWL)
Tourism, Food and Drink
• Scottish Government this week announced the launch early next year of an infrastructure fund designed to support the services and facilities rural tourism communities require. The Fund recognises the challenges posed by successful tourism initiatives such as the North Coast 500. https://beta.gov.scot/news/rural-tourism-infrastructure-fund/ Also this week VisitScotland has announced a major programme of change in the way it provides visitor information. This will involve the closure of 39 visitor information centres across Scotland, including Thurso. A network of 1,500 “information partners” supported by regional hubs will be taken forward. The focus of VisitScotland activity will increasingly be on ensuring the information it provides is able to work in an increasingly digital tourism world. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41596610
North Highland College is taking forward a training programme which is open to all companies who pay into the Apprenticeship Levy. The Flexible Workforce Development Fund is open for applications until Friday 15th December, with all training to be completed by June 2018. This is a great opportunity to support company growth ambitions, and North Highland College is able to help with the application process itself. For more details see https://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/business-services/funding-your-training
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:
• The CNSRP Delivery Group and Executive Board each met this week. We are six months into the 2017-2020 programme of activities, and we are moving through a phase of work that will position us to capitalise on the opportunities we have identified. Delivery Group members met with DSRL’s Head of HR to discuss updated figures on the Dounreay site’s staffing profile, which will be useful as we try to understand future skilled labour availability.
• Last week’s Highland Community Planning Partnerships’ development day brought a number of current workstreams together, and it was good to be able to catch up this week with local Community Planning Partners to discuss how efforts to provide coordinated engagement and support can be even more focused. The Caithness Community Planning Partnership has been running an online survey to support its work in the area, and the survey can be taken at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CaithnessCommunityPartnership
• Following our recent participation in the NDA Stakeholder Summit in Cumbria it was a pleasure this week to welcome to Caithness senior NDA staff and Board members as well as a senior official from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London. Several stakeholder representatives were able to meet the visitors and discuss current and future plans, and I was pleased to have the chance to emphasise the energy-related opportunities we are pursuing, along with the difficulties posed by BEIS decisions such as the recent CfD auction result for Atlantis Resources Ltd. I was also able this week to take part in a conversation with DSRL Chair (and Cavendish Nuclear Chief Executive) Simon Bowen and members of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group. The meeting had been postponed from his last visit to the north, and was a very useful opportunity to discuss current workforce position at Dounreay, as well as to re-emphasise the desire to support the aspirations of companies such as Cavendish to build on Dounreay skills to enable a nuclear services business in the north beyond Dounreay decommissioning.
• It was great to hear this week that Wick High School computing science teacher Chris Aitken has been shortlisted as Secondary Teacher of the Year in the “Scotland Women in Technology” awards for 2017 – for his amazing work in inspiring girls to study (and plan a career) in technology. More on SWiT is at http://scotwomenintech.com/about-swit I saw an excellent example of inspirational learning this week in Inverness at CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland’s “My World of Work Live!” Digital Studio and Careers Lab. Lead educator Dr Alessio Gusmeroli provides a fantastic range of experiences for pupil groups in the P7-S3 age group, as well as hosting after school clubs, parent/ guardian events and continuing professional development for teachers in Highland. It is very much the type of activity we would like to see created in the proposed Newton Room at North Highland College in Thurso, the development of which is being supported by the Inverness City-Region Deal. Find out more at https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/live-inspiring-activities