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The Underwater Centre Continues Growth with Increase in Students from Across the Globe

Quality of staff and facilities prove major draw for students

Divers_DSC8886Fort William-based subsea training and trials facility, The Underwater Centre, has seen a 25% increase in the number of students through its doors in 2012, with the number set to increase even further by the end of 2013.

There was also a rise in the number of international students training at the Centre, with graduates from countries including Angola, Australia and Iran attributing the quality of the courses, staff and the replication of real working environments as the main factors for choosing to train there.

A total of 384 students passed through the Centre’s doors in 2012, more than a 25% increase on the figures from 2011.  The figures for 2013 look set to surpass that with 391 students having already completed or booked on to courses by the end of the year.

The number of international students also rose between 2011 and 2012, with the figures rising from 167 to 184, accounting for almost half of the total number of graduates.

Steve Ham, The Underwater Centre’s General Manager, believes the rise in the number of students coming to train follows a period of growth in the oil and gas industry, which he hopes is set to continue.

He said: “It is really important to us to be able to cater well to the large number of students that we deliver training to from across the globe.  We try to be as culturally sympathetic as possible and cater for special dietary needs, specific religious observance and of course language challenges.  We can deliver our courses in many languages – we’ve recently delivered courses in Russian and provided additional support to Spanish-speaking students.”

Currently undertaking the Centre’s 13-week Premium Industry Package are Australians Mitch Gale and Tristan Dumesny.  This course gives the student the HSE commercial diver qualifications, which include subsea tools training throughout and vital additional skills training such as welding and burning, rigging and slinging and underwater inspection.

Mitch said: “I decided to train as a diver because of other ex-divers I have worked with told me all about the career opportunities and with a boilermaker background I looked into the underwater welding/cutting and I was pretty much sold on the idea of training with The Underwater Centre to become a commercial diver.

Divers_DSC9044“I decided to train at The Underwater Centre because of the high recommendation of the Centre, the structure of the course and the excellent facilities, from word of mouth from divers in Australia.

“Living, studying, and diving at the Centre so far has been a great experience; the staff and students are all easy to get along with and very helpful towards my training and diving assessments.

Tristan added: “I came to Fort William with my good friend Mitch, we decided to come and train here because we wanted to complete the NDT course, which is not available in Australia. The decision to train with The Underwater Centre was easy as the company is world renowned for its course structure, Centre and instructors.”

As well as the seawater dive site with a large range of underwater structures and facilities, The Underwater Centre has a 1.5million litre indoor dive tank complex, purpose-built welding bays, private pier and three barges with wet bell and closed bell training facilities.

Alireza Sedaghatdoust and Jalal Rezazadeh Adli are the first Iranian students to pass through the Centre.  They both completed the Centre’s three-week HSE Closed Bell course which allows them to work at various depths using oxygen and helium breathing mixtures (mixed gas) and saturation techniques.

Alireza (36) said: ”Subsea was always in my mind since I was a child and saw pictures or a movie on TV.  When I learned more about the technical and oilfield side of things, I realised they are practical in an underwater environment too and that was a big motivating factor for me.

“The courses at The Underwater Centre are not designed just for a ticket, but real training for real job. The training provided was a whole new lesson for me and gave me lots of motivation and a new look into commercial diving.

“I recently secured a job as Technical Manager and Diving Supervisor/Instructor for IRATECH Sub Systems, although I am now looking for a job internationally.”

Jalal (30) added: “I was searching for commercial diving schools on the internet back in 2010 and I found The Underwater Centre.  The atmosphere at TUC was really friendly and all Instructors and staff are very knowledgeable and experienced. I felt all the staff there had a good relationship with their students and also foreigners.

“Before coming I thought The Underwater Centre is just a diving school with a good web site but when I arrived there I saw everything was good and organised and the equipment and facilities were of a very high standard.”

The Underwater Centre also delivers a number of other subsea training courses, such as Remotely Operated Vehicle pilot technician training, as well as the internationally-recognised HSE air and mixed gas commercial diving courses, which are all designed to equip students with the skills they will need to succeed in their careers.





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