ALEX Salmond has been visiting Nigg Energy Park to meet the first recruits to pass through its Skills Academy as he hails
the "rapid" progress of the new energy hub.
The First Minister Alex Salmond said he was impressed with the development of business and skills at the park, just nine months after the sale of the largely-disused Cromarty Firth site.
Mr Salmond viewed work at the manufacturing and servicing facility, where Global Energy Group (GEG) – which bought the 238-acre site last October – estimates up to 2,000 people could be employed by 2015.
He also met trainees at Nigg Skills Academy (NSA), the industry-led training facility at the Energy Park which he launched in March.
During his visit on Monday, the First Minister congratulated the first recruits to have secured ‘coded welders’ accreditation following just eight weeks of intensive workshop-focused training – where similarly-experienced trainees might take much longer to achieve this.
The NSA was set up with £915,000 of public funding and bespoke premises provided by GEG.
It aims to start 290 Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) in its first year and to provide both MAs and general training for some 3,000 people by 2015 for a range of jobs including engineers, operators, riggers, technicians and for general and project management.
Mr Salmond said: "I’m delighted to visit Nigg again, to meet staff and to discuss with Roy (MacGregor, GEG chairman) the rapid progress he has made here and the ambitious plans he has for the future.
"Workers at Nigg have delivered some of the biggest energy-industry structures ever built and with one of the world’s largest dry docks, this will be a key hub for the renewables revolution taking place offshore in the waters around Europe and beyond.
"Global has been working on a wide range of significant energy projects in the nine months since purchasing the site, and they’ve also ensured that skills development remains at the heart of the business. It was great talking with the first trainees to have secured their key welding accreditation, in such a short space of time.
"They have bright, exciting careers ahead of them and their enthusiasm is what drives me and the Scottish Government in supporting this rapidly developing industry. They should be proud of their early achievement and so too should all of those who have helped get the Skills Academy up and running."
NSA training manager Neil Clayton said: "We’ve had more than 3,000 applications for the Academy and made a fantastic start with many of the first recruits securing their important ‘coded welder’ status in just 6-to-8 weeks through our intensive workshop-focused training.
"With the Academy now up and running for more than three months, we are planning a big expansion for the rest of the year with clients already secured from companies in various parts of the Highlands and north east."