Salmond foresees good prospects for students

5th September 2012 from Caithness Courier

The renewable industry will be a realistic prospect for future employment for graduates of North Highland College UHI, Alex Salmond has pledged.

The First Minister said that Thurso is at the centre of a re-industrialisation of Scotland and that the country will be dependent on the quality of graduates to maintain energy demands and abroad.

He was speaking last Thursday as he opened the Engineering Technology and Energy Centre (ETEC) and the Centre for Energy and the Environment (CfEE) at the UHI’s main Thurso campus.

Mr Salmond said that Scotland was already looking to the future as the Scottish Government aims to have all the nation’s electricity produced by renewable sources by 2020.

He said that nowhere was that more evident than in the state-of-the-art facilities at the college.

“ETEC has 220 enrolments that will enable these programmes to be taught and find employment in what will look to me to be a very realistic working environment,” he said.

“It will train workers who will make a great contribution to the development of these great projects at Scrabster and Wick and the decommissioning of Dounreay.

“Students will benefit from quality training and along with the ambition and enthusiasm from the stundents I met, the facilities will enable them to meet the skill challenges in the future. The two buildings will enhance the college’s reputation and a new generation will be able to grab the opportunities that will be available to them.”

He said that Thurso, which may have been considered in the past to be peripheral to the Scottish economy, now finds itself in the middle of an economic revolution.

Along with harbour developments at Scrabster and at Wick, he said that the world would be looking to the far north for the energy solutions of the future.

“Renewable energy will be central to the future of Scotland, to the European economy and to the whole of the planet - nowhere is that more illustrated than by these facilities at North Highland College.

“Scrabster Harbour has been transformed from a small harbour into a major hub of future energy developments as more than half of all wave and tidal marine devices in the world are deployed around Scotland and, of these, the vast majority will be deployed in the Pentland Firth.

“There is nowhere more natural to develop the harbour and the thinking into these developments than here in Thurso.

He added: “We are at the centre of a revolution in the production of energy which can be described as the potential re-industrialisation of Scotland.

“100 years ago, this country led the engineering of the world and so a century later we can lead the marine energy needed for much of the planet.

“These facilities are an essential building block to place Scotland at the forefront of the international revolution in the provision of electrical and energy power.”

College vice principal Donald MacBeath said that the purpose of both new facilities is to provide the answer to the future nergy needs of the country. He said: “By investing millions of pounds into both developments, the north Highland area is well placed to respond to the opportunities presented by the renewable energy sector.

“Along with our many partners, we can look forward to the future with confidence, knowing that we are well-equipped to carry out the research and training necessary to secure maximum economic advantage for our area.

“The CfEE will become a focal point for the provision of knowledge to inform the sustainable development of the marine energy sector in Scotland and help ensure that Scotland plays an internationally leading role in developing the low carbon economy.

“ETEC has the potential to transform the nature of technical education and skills development in the north Highlands.

“Working in close collaboration with our industry partners, we will develop these skills in the context and culture of the workplace, ensuring that students are workplace ready, regardless of whether they are ready to move into the labour market or going out on employer placements.”

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