Weekly update, 19th November

Energy:
A reminder that next Wednesday (28th November) there will be an opportunity for members of the public to catch up with current activities in the wave and tidal sector when the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Information Day is held in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso. The event will be open from 2pm until 8pm, with a number of stands from bodies such as Marine Scotland, The Crown Estate, National Grid, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd and wave/ tidal developer companies, as well as HIE, Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, North Highland College and Caithness Chamber of Commerce. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Thurso-showcase-for-Pentland-Firth-marine-energy-plans-21112012.htm

Congratulations to Andrew Bruce at Far North Aviation, and Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd,  for securing a short-term deal with Chevron UK that will see Wick John O’Groats Airport used to fly workers to two oilfields east of Wick. Workers will be flown into Wick on fixed-wing transport, before being flown onward to the fields by helicopters, which will be based at WickJOG airport for the duration of the arrangement. Whilst the flights are the result of the wider transportation issues in the North Sea, it is an excellent opportunity for Wick to highlight its strategic position as a transport link for the oil & gas industry.

Enabling activities:
Recent discussions between partners developing a one day event in February next year aimed at highlighting current and future job opportunities in the north have focused on enhancements to the range and quality of services to employers and jobseekers. Job Centre Plus has just launched its new online Universal Jobmatch, which replaces previous JobCentre Plus vacancy management services. The new service will make it easier and quicker for employers to post jobs online; explore the number of potential jobseeker matches before posting a job (or jobs), and receive an anonymous list of matches; receive a list of suitable jobseekers that match the job posting; review the CVs matched to the job and select the jobseekers the employer wants to apply; invite jobseekers to apply online; respond online to requests for feedback. People seeking jobs can create and/or upload CV’s and receive alerts when jobs matching their CVs/ skills are posted. The new service can be viewed at http://www.gov.uk/advertise-job

Employability was also one of the topics discussed at this week’s meeting of Highland Council’s Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee, with a comprehensive written assessment of issues and agreement to work with partners in the north to address the issues. The paper can be viewed at http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F1C63265-06CF-4572-9038-536043CEE2EA/0/Item5CS1312.pdf

Communications:
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • The Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee of the Highland Council met in Wick on Monday, and Councillors heard a presentation from HIE’s Roy Kirk, as well as discussing and agreeing an update paper on the Council’s “North Highland Onshore Vision” for the growth of the marine energy sector in the area. You can view the webcast of the meeting at http://www.highland.public-i.tv/core/
  • BT’s creation of an £8M fibre-optic “spine” between Dingwall and Orkney has resulted in the Thurso exchange being enhanced, offering businesses “ethernet” services. I was one of the people commenting on the improvements in this week’s Caithness Courier (not online). The enhancements come as the area awaits the start of the overall programme to roll out next generation broadband. HIE’s Roy Kirk told this week’s meeting of the Highland Council’s Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee that the contract to deliver this programme is hoped to be signed by BT and HIE in January 2013.