Weekly Update, 6th December 2010

  • Working this week with colleagues from DSRL to align the DSRL Socio-Economic Plan for 2011/12 with the wider priorities of the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan 2011-2014. The DSRL Plan includes priorities for the Dounreay site’s Socio-economic budget which, although funded through the NDA, is separate from the UK-wide NDA Socio-economic Fund. Alignment of our available partner resources is a key workstream if we are to make maximum use of resources over the coming months and years.
  • Also met this week to discuss progress with the skills transition project for Caithness and North Sutherland. This is being led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, and we hope to hear in the next two weeks whether the final funding application has been successful. If the application is successful then the Chamber of Commerce should be in a position to recruit staff early in the New Year, to allow the programme to begin. 
  • The Partnership’s rescheduled Executive Board meeting takes place next week, so I have reissued papers for the meeting, at which the draft Action Plan endorsed by the Advisory Board last month will go forward for discussion.
  • The Energy & Utilities Sector Skills Council has been commissioned by Skills Development Scotland to develop a “workforce planning model” for the onshore and offshore wind industries. This will include operation and maintenance for offshore wind, which remains a realistic opportunity for ports such as Wick. Information from this research will be of significant value as the skills transition programme for Caithness & North Sutherland gets started. We hope to hear confirmation of the final piece of funding for that programme by the end of December. More information on the “workforce planning model” along with details of how to take part in the research at http://www.euskills.co.uk/low-carbon/workforce-planning-model/
  • Details of the Low Carbon Skills Fund (Scotland) have been released. 650 new places, to be delivered through Skills Development Scotland, are being funded with the support of the European Social Fund to enable employers to upskill and reskill employees in low carbon technologies as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to maximise the economic benefits of greener business. Companies with up to 250 employees in Scotland are eligible to apply for the funding. Training and qualifications relating to energy must be delivered and invoiced by end of March 2011.There will be a maximum of 50% contribution to the training, and only private sector companies may apply.The Scottish Government, with the support of European Social Fund money, has invested £585,000 to fund these training places this year. Further details are available at http://www.euskills.co.uk/home/news.php?id=544
  • Scottish Renewables and Renewables UK have submitted a joint response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order. The response includes comment on relative wave and tidal bandings, as well as arrangements for biomass and offshore wind, all of which will be of interest to Caithness and North Sutherland. You can read the response at  http://www.scottishrenewables.com/MultimediaGallery/94cbc39f-7408-41f0-bf60-40c786efd6b2.pdf