“Significant support” will be given to staff affected after a world-leading Highland subsea training base went into administration yesterday, putting around 50 jobs at risk.
Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said skills and employability support measures had been put in place to help the “highly experienced team”.
The Underwater Centre in Fort William announced yesterday afternoon it had been forced to cease trading as one of only two centres in the world that offers closed bell training to divers.
David McGhie, managing director of The Underwater Centre, said he was “heartbroken” to announce the closure having been hopeful of finding a solution.
The centre was reported to be in financial difficulties last year when its subsidiary in Australia fell into liquidation.
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for energy, connectivity and the islands, said: “This announcement is a matter of great regret and will be hugely concerning for the workers affected and their families. We will look to provide support for employees affected by this development through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).
“Through providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work and it has a strong track record of delivery which I hope is of some comfort to those affected.
“The Scottish Government and our agencies have worked closely with the management team in Fort William, and constituency members of both Parliaments to support the Centre. In the course of doing so we have already provided significant support to The Underwater Centre through its recent challenges.
“We will continue to do all we can as this latest very unwelcome situation develops, given that we firmly believe the Underwater Centre at Fort William is a World class asset with unique capabilities and a highly experienced team.”
Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), Subsea 7, TechnipFMC, Premier Oil and the Scottish Government’s Highlands and Islands Enterprise joined forces to try to secure its long-term future. However that failed to save it from going into administration.
Mr McGhie said: “We regret to confirm that The Underwater Centre has been forced to cease trading and will be placed into administration. It was heart-breaking informing our committed, loyal and professional staff and some students who were due to begin a course this week.
“Government, industry and the local management team have been working hard over the past year to try and find a sustainable solution for the Centre. Unfortunately this has not been possible. We were still hopeful of a solution right up to the eleventh hour which is why some students have been adversely affected. We are truly sorry about this and will do what we can to support them.
“The process of appointing administrators is on-going.”