A new generation of workers emerging from the shutdown of Dounreay can become the backbone of Scotland’s biggest offshore development since the discovery of oil in the North Sea over 40 years ago.
Jamie Stone, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, believes a multi-billion pound investment in marine energy off Scotland’s north coast will open doors for a new wave of workers leaving Dounreay, just as offshore oil and gas did in the 1970s.
He was speaking at the annual awards ceremony of Dounreay’s apprentice training programme when he presented certificates of indenture to the latest group of young people to qualify in electrical, mechanical and instrument crafts.
Their skills, he said, were exactly what energy companies would need to build and operate Scotland’s biggest power station on the seabed of the Pentland Firth.
Just as ex-Dounreay apprentices could be found on almost every platform in the North Sea, so he also expected to see this latest generation go on to achieve great success in the next major industrial development taking place in Scotland’s seas.
Their potential filled him with optimism about the economic prospects of the north Highlands when the Dounreay clean-up is complete and the site closed down.
“Your contribution, what you have learnt and what you have done so far, is of the very, very greatest value,” Mr Stone told more than 100 invited guests at the Pentland Hotel, Thurso.
“Your achievement serves to underline and underpin what we are saying to industry and business -‘Come to the Far North, we have the people, we have the workforce’. Tonight absolutely demonstrates we have the skills.
“That really is what you are about and I believe all of you – your friends and your families – should be hugely proud of that.”
Before entering politics, Mr Stone worked on the construction of platforms for the North Sea during the boom years of the 1970s and 1980s.
As offshore reserves enter their mature phase, decommissioning of these platforms also presents opportunities for a new generation of skilled workers.
“These projects, in the 1970s and 1980s, were leaps of faith in terms of what we could do. Just as Dounreay kept not one generation but several here from leaving their beloved homeland, so Nigg was the same for my generation.
“The imagination and courage that brought Dounreay and Nigg to be is necessary in the future in a similar fashion. As we talk about future employment, we need to remember that sometimes there has to be the courage to really go for the big projects.”
More than a thousand people have served their time as apprentices at Dounreay but recruitment will cease when decommissioning nears completion.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd wants to help the local economy retain the high-quality training when it’s no longer needed by the site.
“It’s a great apprenticeship,” said managing director Simon Middlemas.
“We are looking to develop that in the future with local companies through a community apprenticeship for Caithness, so when Dounreay is not here people are still coming through.”
SVQ3 Engineering Maintenance and Certificate of Modern Apprenticeship
- Andrew Harvey, JCL Instrument
- Gavin Hendry JCL Mechanical
- Gary Weir, DSRL Electrical
- Gordon Macleod, DSRL Electrical
- Grant Anderson, DSRL Electrical
- Dane Nicolson, DSRL Electrical
- Calum Sinclair, DSRL Instrument
- Michael King, DSRL Instrument
- Stephen Bremner, DSRL Instrument
- Ryan Sinclair, DSRL Mechanical
- Alexander Elder, DSRL Mechanical
SVQ2 Performing Engineering Operations:
- Craig Budge, DSRL
- Daniel Budge, DSRL
- Erin Thomson, DSRL
- Graham Parker, DSRL
- Hugh Tunn, DSRL
- Darryn Wright, DSRL
- Alistair Gunn, JCL
- Lewis Bain, JCL
- John Green, JCL
Lachie Macmillan Trophy for Most Improved Apprentice – Gavin Hendry
Director’s Trophy for Best All Round Apprentice – Matthew Sutherland