First Minister Alex Salmond launched a training academy at the Nigg oil fabrication yard yesterday, saying it would provide a skilled workforce to power what would become the “beating industrial heart” of the Highlands.
Nigg Skills Academy is at the 238-acre Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty Firth, bought five months ago by Global Energy Group.
It is backed by over £900,000 of public funds and aims to provide training for 3,000 apprentices and other workers over three years.
Mr Salmond met some of the 800 applicants hoping to secure one of the 290 Modern Apprenticeships on offer in this year’s pilot scheme, under which they are guaranteed jobs.
Global has estimated that up to 2,000 people could be employed at the Nigg yard within the next four years.
Mr Salmond said: “The launch of this skills academy marks a major step in ensuring that the jobs created at Nigg and elsewhere can be filled in the local area. The fact that there were 800 applicants in this local area demonstrates the thirst there is for training and skills.”
He added it marked Scotland’s emergence as a global energy superpower and would be seen as a turning point.
“Scotland is the epicentre of the renewables industry and Nigg will be at its very core because of its extraordinary facilities,” said Mr Salmond, adding: “That industry, combined with the energy sector as a whole, will lead to the re-industrialisation of this country.
“The Highlands of Scotland will be able to take their rightful role in the provision of energy supplies for the future for this entire planet.”
Global chairman Roy MacGregor, who worked at the yard in its 1970s heyday, said: “The training skills academy is the hope for a new generation and it is the opportunity that will make Nigg distinctive.
“The opportunity it provides for individuals, the area and the Highlands is enormous.”
The academy was created in partnership by the Scottish Government and Global, with £915,000 of funding from the Scottish Funding Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland.
North Highland College, JobCentrePlus, Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish Qualifications Authority and industry training accreditation bodies are also involved in the project.