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The Underwater Centre Scoops Prestigious Industry Award

The Underwater Centre, one of the world’s leading subsea training and trials facilities, picked up a top award at last night’s annual 2014 SPE Offshore Achievement Awards at the AECC.

Photograph by Rory Raitt

Photograph by Rory Raitt

The Fort William-based business was shortlisted in the Working Together Award category.  The awards celebrate outstanding successes within the UK offshore industry in categories including safety innovations, new technologies and individual achievements.

The Underwater Centre’s entry was based on an initiative last year in which it was awarded £490,000 funding by the Scottish Government’s Energy Skills Challenge Fund, managed by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), to train the next generation of divers for the oil and gas industry.  The money allowed the Centre to offer commercial diver training places at half the original cost, the only criteria being that candidates must have a Scottish postcode.

General Manager of The Underwater Centre, Steve Ham, said: “It is really heartening to see that we are being recognised by our industry peers.

”In 2012, The Underwater Centre identified an opportunity to work with SDS to train Scottish candidates to become commercial divers.  The financial package they offered meant that training became significantly more accessible for Scottish-based candidates.

“The aim of the initiative was to address the much discussed skills gap across the industry, and the project sought to create a means for workers to transfer their land-based engineering, fabricating and construction skills to create opportunity for Scottish workers in the subsea sector.  Almost 70 Scottish candidates have come through the scheme so far to become commercial divers, allowing candidates to begin a new and lucrative career in one of Scotland’s flagship industries.

“Initial feedback shows that candidates have been successful in gaining employment and are earning significantly more than the national average.  We will continue to work with SDS in an effort to ensure that we can support this initiative in years to come.”

Mike Duncan, Director of Energy Skills Scotland (ESS) added: “This award is well-deserved and I’d like to congratulate The Underwater Centre on the successful delivery of transition training through the Energy Skills Challenge Fund.  This sector-specific training has set a group of commercial divers on the right track to successful careers within the energy sector.”

The Underwater Centre’s primary focus is on providing industry-specific skills and competency training for commercial divers and ROV pilot technicians, helping graduates into their new careers and providing the energy sector with the workforce which it needs.

It is also a centre of excellence for subsea equipment trials, and provides assistance, support, advice and the facilities required for clients from every aspect of the industry.  As such, the Centre has been able to play a key role in the development of new technologies, systems and operational standards for a series of ground-breaking innovations.

The Underwater Centre is  the only training centre in the world that offers the full range of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) commercial diving qualifications in air and mixed gas diver training, from HSE SCUBA to HSE Closed Bell diving.

Based at the head of Loch Linnhe, it offers a unique sheltered, seawater site with a large private pier extending into the loch. The waters plunge to depths of 150 metres, which are ideal conditions for commercial diving and ROV training. There is also a large, purpose built, onshore diver and ROV training tank complex.

Anyone interested in more information about The Underwater Centre should contact 01397 703 786 or [email protected]

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