Underwater Centre gets extra cash boost for diving training
SPECIALIST underwater training in Fort William got a boost with news that the government has awarded funding to support skills development.
The money for The Underwater Centre comes from Skills Development Scotland and will help ensure Scotland is ready to supply the qualified divers and remotely operated vehicle pilots the subsea industry believes it will need in the future.
The downturn in the oil and gas industry has led to a reduction in training by individuals and companies.
Without ongoing investment in training, the fear is skills will be lost to the industry as older workers retire without the skilled workforce to replace them.
The subsea industry is a key part of the Scottish economy and the Government believes it is vital to support subsea training now so the country’s workforce is ready to respond to positive market conditions when oil prices recover, as well as being prepared for opportunities in decommissioning and the offshore renewables sector.
Scottish residents - those who have been living in Scotland for at least the last 12 months - will be able to train in key courses at The Underwater Centre for 50 per cent of the usual cost.
The other half of the fees will be paid by Skills Development Scotland.
With industry needs in mind, the financial support is targeted towards the specific areas where there are likely to be shortages.
The support is not seeking to bring new people into the offshore industry but is aiming to increase the capability of the people already in the sector.
Steve Ham, commercial director at The Underwater Centre, says the support offers huge benefits to the Scottish subsea workforce.
‘While none of us have a crystal ball, there are increasing signs the upturn is coming. This support for subsea skills training will help companies benefit more quickly and more effectively from that upturn.
‘It will also help individuals advance their own careers by making it easier to invest in themselves.’
The financial support is available to both individuals and companies who wish to train their staff and candidates are urged to apply as soon as possible.
The total value of the funding is limited and will be allocated on a first- come, first- served basis.
F30 Divers in training 01 IF Divers Danny Low, left, and Ross Jackson in a diving bell during training at The Underwater Centre.