Weekly update, 11th July

Enabling activities:
• The “Ready, Steady, Work” programme developed by CNSRP partners DSRL and North Highland College began this week. The programme takes young people from 4th to 6th year and introduces them to a range of workshops and company visits designed to enhance their ability to move on from school into employment, training or further education. Last year 100% of attendees entered one of these categories after completing the course, and I was pleased to be able to give a presentation on future job prospects to this year’s attendees. It was good to see interest in the economic picture I was describing, and to hear from attendees that interest was not confined to the engineering sector.
• The Board of NDA Archives Ltd was in Caithness this week to see progress with the construction of the Archive building in Wick and to meet local stakeholders. Commercial partner Restore UK and contractor Morrison Construction gave updates at a meeting in Wick. It was also good to talk to Hi-Life Highland representatives about progress with the migration of the Caithness Archive to the new complex in preparation for its anticipated public opening in early January next year. Several posts for the new facility have already been filled, so we look forward to seeing the completed complex!
• More good news announced this week for areas seeking fibre broadband connectivity, as CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise continues to work with BT Scotland to roll out coverage to new areas in the north. The latest settlements in the north highlands to be scheduled include Bridge of Westfield, Forss, Latheron, Kinlochbervie and Lochinver. As always, superfast broadband services have to be ordered by consumers. More at http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/broadband-update-for-your-local-authority-area.html#sthash.4jsm5nsn.dpbs

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:
• I continue to make presentations to groups on future employment prospects for the area – this week I presented to a group of Caithness-based colleagues from CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland. The SDS team in Caithness have excellent links with local schools, and provide an important link between schools and the world of work, so it was great to be able to talk through the key future opportunities we see for the area economy, and to discuss the importance of young people to achieving some of these longer-term economic goals.
• This weekend will see an open day for the restored Category B listed building in central Thurso that was compulsorily purchased by CNSRP partner Highland Council following community representations on its poor state of repair. The derelict building in Sir John Square will be open to the public on Saturday 15th from 10am – 1pm and more information is at http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/9574/restored_thurso_building_to_throw_open_its_doors?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=
• The socio-economic subgroup of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week and discussed updates from the Dounreay socio-economic alliance, as well as my own written update. It was good to hear encouraging updates on student application numbers from North Highland College, and to hear about ongoing discussions taking place within DSRL on socio-economic opportunities within contract procurement.