Weekly update, 1st June

Energy & Business Services

Great to see news this week that a new company is being set up with bases in Aberdeen and Lybster, creating 16 jobs between the two areas – 5 of those being planned in Caithness. Enerquip is Chaired by Andrew Polson, the Caithness native who set up AMC Engineering before its purchase by Forum Energy Technologies. Enerquip has purchased the Lybster facilities, and has said it wishes to use Lybster for manufacturing and repair. Mr Polson was one of the original “Caithness Ambassadors” who supported the work of CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It reinforces the view that despite the wider uncertainties in the oil & gas industry, the north continues to offer a cost-effective place from which to do business. More info at https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/79443/enerquip-set-up-to-offer-torque-services/

Also useful to read the update this week from Atlantis Resources Ltd’s CEO Tim Cornelius in Tidal Today, where he explains the rationale behind the company’s recent purchase of tidal developer Marine Current Turbines from Siemens. http://analysis.tidaltoday.com/atlantis-buyout-marine-current-turbines-strengthens-uk-supply-chain-ceo

Tourism, Food & Drink:

The Northern Times this week reports that 8 out of the 12 Highland beaches receiving recognition in the 2015 Scottish Seaside Awards were in Sutherland, reinforcing the growing reputation of the north – particularly with high media profile through the recent attention focused on the North Highland Initiative’s “North Coast 500” route, on which all the listed beaches can be found. More at  http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Eight-out-of-12-award-winning-Highland-beaches-are-in-Sutherland-01062015.htm

Enabling activities:

North Highland College has announced the return of its “Engineering & Construction Employability Skills” course. Following the success of last year’s six-week summer programme – where every candidate entered employment, apprenticeship or further education – this year’s programme will again offer a course aimed at equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and certification to help them into employment. The course has been designed with the support of local engineering and construction companies. North Highland College is the owner of a project on the CNSRP Programme that aims to enhance the ability of our area to identify and deliver key skills for current and future workforces. More info on the Summer programme and on how to apply is at http://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/courses/engineering-and-construction-employability-essentials

Also on the subject of improving prospects for young people, Caithness Chamber of Commerce is submitting an ambitious bid to Scottish Government to deliver a project under the “Invest in Young People” programme developed in response to Sir Ian Wood’s Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce. As reported previously the Chamber and North Highland College ran a successful event in Wick to gauge business support for engagement with young people, and there was overwhelming support for the Chamber to take forward a bid. If approved the bid will aim to promote better engagement between employers and young people, leading to increased employability skills, increased availability of training and apprenticeship places and ultimately to a more economically active future workforce.

Transport Scotland’s managing agency and its local contractors John Gunn & Sons have this week been carrying out major (and welcome) resurfacing work on the A9 Trunk road that passes through Thurso. Next week will see further activity on the A9 – this time just south of Thurso at the site of the new Substation to be built by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission as the latest part of the £1.1 billion Caithness-Moray programme of grid enhancements (a video of what the programmed improvements will look like is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CfMqy_GP20) . Next Monday (8th June) work will start at Geiselittle to create access junction into the site, and the main A9 will therefore be limited to a single-carriageway for a short distance, with traffic lights controlling movement. For more see http://news.ssepd.co.uk/news/all-articles/2015/06/access-works-for-new-substation-site-to-get-under-way/

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:

  • Good to catch up this week with Robin Jackson, Highland Opportunity’s Investment Manager, who was in Caithness supporting Jennifer Irvine of Business Gateway as local businesses continue to seek advice and support to develop their projects. Highland Opportunity works closely with both Highland Council/ Business Gateway and HIE, as well as Caithness Chamber, to ensure a joined-up approach to business start-up and growth.
  • Scottish Provincial Press issued its latest “Energy North” Supplement last week with all of its titles in the Highlands. The publication is now available to view at http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=c43fe0a6-5cd2-4534-8f3c-07d70acd16e7