Weekly update, 25th July

Energy and Business Services:
• Recruitment firm ERSG has been appointed by SSE to help recruit contract workers for its Beatrice Offshore Windfarm development in the Moray Firth, just off the Caithness coast. As previously reported here, Wick Harbour is to be the operations and maintenance base for the project, and the CNSRP Delivery Group hopes to work with SSE and its supply chain to help deliver economic benefits from the Beatrice project. http://renews.biz/103575/ersg-joins-sse-at-beatrice/
• Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd will hold consultation events in the area next week. The company, which received consent to develop the eastern part of its offshore wind field in the Moray Firth in 2014, is now consulting on plans to develop a western section of its area. The events will be held in Helmsdale Community Centre (Tuesday 2nd August, 12-8pm) and Mackay’s Hotel, Wick (Wednesday 3rd August, 12-8pm) http://morayoffshorerenewables.com/News/Moray-Offshore-Renewables-Consults-On-New-Offs-(1).aspx

Enabling activities:
• Caithness Chamber hosted a discussion last week on the issues around IT/ Digital skills and learning. I joined colleagues from North Highland College, CNSRP partners Skills Development Scotland, Highland Council and the NDA as well as representatives from AGM Batteries and Navertech to look at opportunities to further enhance the teaching and learning around digital/ high-tech skills. I mentioned the work being taken forward under the aegis of the Highlands & Islands Science Skills Academy regarding the Norwegian model of “Newton Rooms” and we agreed to work together to bring forward opportunities for mentoring and learning in this important sector.
• I also took part in a very constructive meeting this week with staff from Skills Development Scotland and Caithness Chamber on Modern Apprenticeship numbers in the area, and ways in which businesses might be able to take advantage of the range of opportunities for both new and existing staff to engage in MA activity.

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 met with Highland Councillors in Caithness this week along with Roy Kirk, Area Manager of CNSRP Partner HIE, to update Members on progress with the Partnership’s Programme of work. It was good to hear that Councillors area aware of the range of work now coming to fruition in the north
• I contributed an article to the latest Energy North supplement, which was issued today (Friday) with all titles in the Scottish Provincial Press group of newspapers. My piece focused on the series of talks to Dounreay workers by myself and Simon Middlemas, and the extent to which we have been able to highlight positive reasons to be optimistic about the area’s future economy. The supplement had a particularly relevant range of other stories too, with Scrabster Harbour Trust, Atlantis Resources and HIE’s Calum Davidson all featuring.