Cash from the closure of the fast reactor site at Dounreay is set to breed a new generation of engineers and scientists in the Scottish Highlands.
The money from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will fund half the cost of a £50,000 project to increase the number of school-leavers skilled in science, technology, engineering and maths.
It’s hoped they will enter emerging new industries such as the marine energy sector that can fill the gap left by the closure of the biggest employer in the north Highlands.
The two-year project is being run by the Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise and involves secondary schools in Wick, Thurso, Bettyhill and Golspie.
A part-time co-ordinator is being recruited to develop new materials for the curriculum and business and work experience placements for both teachers and students. The Highland Council will provide office accommodation and management support to the co-ordinator.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, the NDA’s site closure contractor, is among the companies actively supporting the project.
The company’s socio-economic manager Ken Nicol said: “We’ve worked closely with the NDA and the STEM North of Scotland team to provide 50 per cent of the cost of this project over the next two years.
“It’s one of several education and skills initiatives we are supporting to assist the area adjust to the loss of one major industry and grasp the opportunities now emerging in another, the marine energy sector around the Pentland Firth. Therefore we need to ensure that the young people are appropriately skilled for employment in this new sector.”
CNSRP Programme Manager Eann Sinclair welcomed the launch of the programme of work: "The CNSRP is all about the added value brought by working in partnership, and this project is a great example of organisations getting together to direct their resources to priority projects."