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Additional Energy Skills Challenge Funding to train Scotland’s next generation of subsea divers

The Underwater Centre awarded further £130,000 to train a further 15 divers

Welding diver at The Underwater CentreAn exciting and lucrative career opportunity is on offer to 15 Scottish residents, who are being given the chance to retrain at a leading diver training facility thanks to a funding boost.

The Underwater Centre in Fort William is able to offer 15 commercial diver training places at half the original cost thanks to a £130,000 award made by the Scottish Government’s Energy Skills Challenge Fund.

Announcement of this latest funding package comes just four months after The Underwater Centre was awarded £360,000 towards the training of 42 Scottish-based individuals.

With many parts of Scotland, particularly the Central Belt, experiencing an ongoing downturn in some areas of industry, including construction, commercial diving is seen as a viable and realistic alternative career option as many of the skills required in the construction business are directly transferable.

The rewards of a career in commercial diving are many and include high earnings, job satisfaction, an excellent work-life balance, and worldwide travel opportunities. The news comes at a time when the UK is facing a skills shortage in the oil and gas sector, as well as an ageing population of commercial divers – a recent report by Oil and Gas UK shows that in 2011, more than a third of the UK’s ‘core’ diving personnel were aged between 45-54 years.

Steve Ham, General Manager at The Underwater Centre, said The Underwater Centre was overwhelmed with enquiries after the announcement of the first tranche of funding last October, and had successfully filled all 42 places following a series of introductory assessment days.  The first training courses began in early January.

“This is great news for those who want to pursue a career in diving but have perhaps never had the opportunity financially to go for it,” he said.  “It is also good news for industry, which is struggling to find skilled workers for the subsea sector at a time of sustained growth and expansion.

“We had a huge number of calls from people from a range of career backgrounds, including construction workers and yard hands, when the first round of funding was announced, and we ran a number of successful assessment days for those interested.

“The calibre of student was very high and, as a result, we were easily able to fill all 42 places.  It was because of this success that we re-applied for further funding and we are very pleased to have been awarded the extra funding. We fully anticipate that we will be able to fill these additional 15 places.”

The Energy Skills Challenge Fund is managed by Skills Development Scotland and aims to attract new entrants into Scotland’s energy sector and helps people make their existing skills relevant to the sector.  The funding is available to individuals with a Scottish postcode.

Gordon McGuiness, Head of Industry and Enterprise Networks at Skills Development Scotland, said:

“We expect a big demand for skilled workers within Scotland’s energy sector and the Energy Skills Challenge Fund has responded to the needs of industry.

“The additional funding allocated to The Underwater Centre is an excellent example of sector-specific training to set another group of commercial divers on the right track to a successful career within the energy sector.”

The funding will allow 15 prospective students the opportunity to undertake one of two courses – The Underwater Centre’s New Construction Career Package or its Premium Industry Package – for half the normal fee, giving them the support and training needed to get started as commercial divers.

Training is particularly geared towards equipping and up-skilling those with transferrable skills and a hands-on attitude.  It will help prepare the next generation of commercial divers for the wide range of career opportunities available within the energy sector, including Scotland’s renewable industry and the oil and gas sector.

As well as providing the mandatory Health and Safety Executive (HSE) commercial diver training, the courses also include essential vocational skills, which form an excellent base for anyone seeking a career in onshore or offshore air diving.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this latest opportunity should contact The Underwater Centre on 01397 703786 or [email protected]


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